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In the Washington Guitar Society newsletter No. 31, March 1997, I included a guitar version of "Our Director March", published and arranged by Walter Jacobs. The accompanying article included a bit of the history of this renowned march, and my arguments in defense of playing music that many people would turn their noses up at. Indeed, I say play anything you can get your hands on. I also left in some personal, anecdotal material. Feel free to tune out whenever and wherever you'd like.
According to the Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music, Our Director is "one of the most famous of all marches. It has been adapted by countless schools, colleges, clubs and other organizations as their alma mater or fight song." Not too shabby, eh?
Our Director was the first of only 3 known works by Frederick Ellsworth Bigelow (1873-1929.) It was first published in 1895 and arrangements have been published throughout this century [oops, the 20th, that is], one at least as recently as 1985.
It has an odd tie-in to the guitar world in that Walter Jacobs, American guitarist and publisher, bought an entire catalog of orchestral music just to obtain the rights to Our Director. But this 1902 edition is not a result of that; he purchased the catalog in 1917. In that year Jacobs published a version with words by Jack Yellen (of Ain't She Sweet fame) called The Battle Song Of Liberty.
I know that 19th century music of any sort, and American in particular, doesn't thrill everybody. A piece like this might invite the question, why play something if it isn't great?
First of all, don't knock it until you've played it without flubs at a good tempo, dotted quarter = 104, say. If you still don't like it, maybe you should ask what your problem is. After all, the piece has given a lot of other people a lot of pleasure. Who's to say it isn't great?
Another reason is that every single piece of music you play is a study for every other piece you ever will play. Every piece of guitar music has technical challenges. For example, this piece requires some very nimble right-hand finger maneuvers in measure 17 (counting partial measures.)
Another reason is simply for the reading practice. Time spent reading this will make your first spin through a Bach, Brouwer or you-name-it piece just a little smoother and easier.
Another reason is for the historical interest. This is what got toes tapping back then. Wouldn't it be a drag if it were no different from what's going on now? Playing from an original or facsimile helps to boost the "time traveling" sensation.
Another reason is the satisfaction that comes with not following everybody else's beaten, trodden path. Sometimes I've gone overboard, ranting that you shouldn't work on anything recorded or performed by somebody else. That's crazy, of course, but the quantity and variety of music out there is staggering. And you're not obligated to make a long-term commitment to this or any piece. In this case, if you leave out repeats, you can get back to the "great" stuff - whatever that may be - in a minute and 40 seconds.
The preceding background notes and editorializing are actually unrelated to what gave me the initial bug to present this piece. There's a more personal reason. When I stumbled on it in the Library of Congress, I realized, Holy smokes! This is the one my old piano teacher used to pound out as his "show piece"! His name was Mr. Peverill. He was bald and he did magic tricks. My older sisters had started lessons with him before I did. That was maybe 5th or 6th grade. I was a crummy pupil. In spite of that, the piano lessons gave me a good grounding in reading and making music, and the eventual benefit to my life has been immeasurable. So... I want to thank my parents, Benton and Jane, for the piano lessons - not to mention a billion and one other things.
*** 3. "Our Director March" for guitar (pdf) ***
The first incarnation of this web page had just the ASCII tablature version which you see at the bottom. Then, little by little, images started to creep onto my web site (horrors!), and I added images of the music to this page. Now (the exact date shouldn't concern you; it was before now) I add a third, and probably the most useful, presentation, the music pages in pdf format:
"Our Director March" by F. E. Bigelow (pdf)
1. Guide finger dashes, right-hand fingerings, and all handwritten left-hand fingerings have been added by me. Also see the comments provided with the tablature below. See the piano version on the Levy Sheet Music site for a clearly notated rhythm for the "Drum Solo" section.
2. A copy of this piece can be found in the Library of Congress, call number M127 B. I thank the Library of Congress. The cover copied poorly because the copier treated the dark orange color, if I remember, about the same as the black ink. The stamp on the cover reads: The Library of Congress. Two copies received. May 2 1902. COPYRIGHT ENTRY May 2-1902. Class C XXo. No. 26357. Copy B.
3. Reference: The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music by William H. Rehrig, edited by Paul E. Bierley. 1991.
4. For more information on Walter Jacobs and some of his original compositions, see The Guitar In America, edited by Peter Danner. Also see Soundboard X/4 p358, Soundboard XIII/3 p194, and Soundboard XXIII/3 p51 with articles by Danner.
*** 2. "Our Director March" for guitar (jpeg) ***
*** 1. "Our Director March" for guitar (tablature) ***
And here is my easy-to-read ASCII tablature which served me so faithfully for years. You'll find it completely faithful to the sheet music. It uses only common keyboard characters. It's very simple and instantly usable. Click here for some general comments on the modern tablature, including tips on printing it out perfectly.
Title: Our Director. March. Composer: F. E. Bigelow. Date: 1902. Tuning: regular. Time sig: 6/8. Fixes, modifications and comments (M=Measure; p=Place in measure; s=String): M74p1s3 original showed B natural (with fingering for B flat); changed to B flat here. M41-49 drum solo: Original indicates tremelo with 32nd-note beams on the rhythm stems; I've written "trem." above the staff. Drum Solo instructions: "Drum on the strings near the bridge with the palm of the hand." Those instructions aren't clear to me. Consider rasgueados where tremelo is notated and tambora for the simple 8th notes. The snare drum effect would be great, but it's hard to load up in time. Or consider fingernail taps on the bridge, using ami for beat 6 triplets, ending on m for the following beat 1. Or consider a simultaneous tapping and tambora. In the drum solo tablature, there are rhythm stems with no "note heads" in some of the beat 1 positions. The interpretation is the conventional one - a tied note, which is what the original shows. The problem is, exactly what is being tied over? Bass notes throughout the piece are never held over a bar line. Keep this in mind, since I haven't written in explicit rests to stop the last bass note in a measure. Tablature elements to be added by hand: Take a moment to fill out the 16th-note beams. Explanation of symbols: ^ (arrowhead) = arpeggiation. Original showed a curved bracket ( encompassing the notes of the chord. I believe this means to play the chord with a thumb stroke. For a neater appearance, re-draw the ^ arrowhead right at the top of the stem. . = rest. Applies specifically to the previously sounding note on that string. Note: Bass notes are never held over a bar line. Keep that in mind, since I haven't written rests in the bass at the beginning of a measure to stop the bass note sounding from the previous measure. - or _ = accent or emphasis mark. Original uses > symbol. cresc. = crescendo. Original uses the skinny angle symbol (opening to the right.) decresc. = decrescendo. Original uses the skinny angle symbol (closing to the right.) The text "cresc." and "decresc." in the tablature cover about the same range of music as the skinny angle symbols do on the original. Leading measures in original sheet music: 1 6 10 15 20 25 30 36. Page 2: 40 46 52 58 63 68 73 78. Last measure is 83. *** Download and edit out all material above and below the tablature. *** Set up your printer for: 96 characters/line (12 characters/inch). 66 lines/page (6 lines/inch). *** Print out starting with the title line below. Our Director. March. OD: Page 1 of 3. Arr. by Walter Jacobs. Leading measures: 1 8 16 22 31. F. E. Bigelow. ff decresc. f __ ___ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ __ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ | | |-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____|____________|_2___2_5_2__|_________2_0|___________||__2_._2_2_1_2|____________|___________ _____|_3_3_3_3___3|___3_______3|_____0_2____|_3__.____3_||_____________|_3_._3_3_2_3|___0_2_____ ____2|_________2__|____________|_2_2___0____|______2____||*____________|____________|_2_________ _____|____________|____________|____________|_4__.______||*_0__________|_0__________|_0_________ _____|____________|____________|_______0____|_5__.______||________0____|_______0____|___________ _____|____________|____________|____________|___________||_____________|____________|___________ _____ ___ _____ __ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ | | | | |-| | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___0_1|_2_2_2_2_0__|____3_3__2|_2_0___0_|___2_0______|____________|_2_._2_2_1_2|____________|___ _3____|___________3|_2__2_2___|_2___4_2_|_3_____3_2_0|___0________|____________|_3_._3_3_2_3|___ ______|____________|____2_2___|_______2_|____________|_2___2_0____|____________|____________|___ ______|_0__________|_2__._____|_________|_0__________|___._____4_2|_0__________|_0__________|___ _0____|____________|__________|_0_____._|____________|____________|_______0____|_______0____|___ ______|____________|__________|_________|____________|____________|____________|____________|___ ff decresc. _____ _____ ___ _____ ___ _____ _____ ___ _____ _____ _____ _____ | | | | | | | |-| | | | | |-| | | | | | | | |-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________0_1|_2_2_2_2_2_1|_0_0_0_0____|_______0___0|_4_2_0______|_1st_______________||__2nd_____ ___0_2_3____|_______1____|_2_______2__|_____2___4__|_3_____3_2_0|_End____0__________||__End_____ _2__________|____________|___________2|___2________|____________|______2___2_0_____*||_______2__ _0__________|_0_____1____|_2__________|_2__________|____________|______________4_2_*||__________ _______0____|____________|____________|____________|____________|______0_.__________||_______0__ ____________|____________|____________|____________|_0__________|___________________||__________ ff mf ff __ __ __ __ __ __ ___ _____ ___ _____ __ __ | | | | | |. | | |. | | |. | | |. | |-| | | | |. |. | |-| | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________||_________|________|____0_2_|____3_5_|____________|______|_________0_1|_2__._____|____ _______0_||__2__3_5_|____7_8_|_3____3_|____5_7_|_2_2_2_2_3_4|_5____|_3_3_3_3____|_________0|_2__ __._2____||*_2__4_6_|____7_9_|____2___|________|_2_2_2_2_4_5|_6____|_________0_1|_2__._2___|_2__ _________||*________|________|_4__.___|_0______|____________|______|_4_4_4_4____|_0__._____|____ __.______||_________|_0______|________|________|____________|____0_|____________|__________|____ _________||_________|________|________|________|____________|______|____________|__________|____ __ __ __ __ __ _____ __ _____ _____ _____ __ __ | |. | | |. | | |. | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______|____2_3_|____0_2_|____3_5_|_3__.___2_0|________0__|_______3_2_0|_1st_____________||______ __3_5_|____3_5_|_3____3_|____5_7_|_0__0_0____|_3__._____3|_2_0________|_End__3__.____0__||______ __4_6_|________|____2___|________|_0__.______|_2__2_2____|_0___2_4_2__|___________2____*||______ ______|________|_4__.___|_0______|___________|_4__.______|_2__________|______4__.______*||______ ______|_0______|________|________|___________|___________|_______0____|______5__._______||______ ______|________|________|________|___________|___________|____________|_________________||______ Bigelow. Our Director. Leading measures: 39 45 52 60 69. OD: Page 2 of 3. Drum Solo. (May be omitted.) ff - - - trem. trem. trem. ___ __ ^ __ ^ __ ^ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ | |-| | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ __2nd_____________||_TRIO__3__._3__._|_3__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______ __End__3_3_3_3__._||_______0__._0__._|_0__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______ __________________||_______0__._0__._|_0__._x__|___._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___x_x_x_x_x_|______ _______4_____4__._||_______0__._0__._|_0__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______ _______5_____5__._||_______2__._2__._|_2__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______ __________________||_______3__._3__._|_3__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______ trem. trem. trem. p _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ __ __ __ __ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||___________|__________|_____ _____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|_______3__||__3________|____2_3__5|_3___ _x_._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___x_x_x_x_x_|_x___._4__||*_4________|____3_4__5|_4___ _____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||*____0_0__0|__________|_____ _____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||___________|__________|_____ _____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||__3__._____|_3__._____|_3___ cre- __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________|__________|_0________|_2____0___|__________|__________|__________|__________|__________ ________|_0________|_1________|_3____1___|_3________|__________|_1________|_3____1___|_0________ ________|_0________|__________|__________|_4________|__________|_2________|_4____2___|_0________ __0_0__0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|____0_.__0|____0_0___ ________|__________|_3__3_3__3|____3_.__3|__________|__________|__________|__________|__________ __._____|_3__._____|__________|__________|_3__._____|_3__._____|_2__._____|__________|_3__._____ -sc. decresc. p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ _____ _____ __ __ __ __ __ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___|__________|______3___|_2____0___|__________|____________|__________|__________|__________|__ ___|_3________|_2________|__________|_3__._____|____________|_3________|____2_3__5|_3________|__ ___|_4________|_2____4___|_2____0___|__________|____________|_4________|____3_4__5|_4________|__ __0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|_4__2_4__2|_0_2_0______|____0_0__0|__________|____0_0__0|__ ___|__________|____0_.__0|____0_.__0|_5__._____|_______3_2_0|__________|__________|__________|__ ___|_3__._____|__________|__________|__________|____________|_3__._____|_3__._____|_3__._____|__ f __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________|_0________|_2____0___|__________|__________|_3________|_2____0___|__________|________ _0________|_1________|_3____1___|_3________|__________|__________|__________|_3________|______1_ _0________|__________|__________|_4________|__________|_3________|_3____3___|_4________|_0______ ____0_0__0|__________|__________|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|_0__0_0__0|_2____1_ __________|_3__3_3__3|____3_.__3|__________|__________|_4__4_4__4|____4_.__4|__________|____3_._ _3__._____|__________|__________|_3__._____|_3__._____|__________|__________|__________|________ Bigelow. Our Director. Leading measures: 77. OD: Page 3 of 3. p - __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ^ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___|__________|_5________|_1st__3________|____._____||__2nd__3________|_3__.___||_______________ ___|_0________|_7________|_End__0________|____._3___||__End__0________|_0__.___||_______________ ___|_0________|_5________|______0__0_____|______4__*||_______0__0_____|_0__.___||_______________ ___|_0__0_0__0|_0__0_0__0|___________0___|_________*||____________0___|_0__.___||_______________ __3|__________|__________|______________2|__________||_______________2|_2__.___||_______________ ___|__________|__________|______3__._____|_3__._____||_______3__._____|_3__.___||_______________
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