Variations on Amazing Grace

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Dan Heslink

General Info

Year: 19
Duration: c.
Difficulty: Level V-VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Honeyrock
Cost: Score and Parts - $0.00   |   Score Only - $17.95




Program Notes

This challenging arrangement for solo marimba (four-mallets), is comprised of a four-part chorale-style exposition of the famous early American melody, followed by four variations in contrasting styles. The variations make use of performance practices of West African players of the gyil (ostinato figures in one hand against polyrhythmic melodic fragments in the other), quartel and quintal harmonies, arpeggiated textures (reminiscent of Japanese Koto performance) as well as copious use of independent rolls (single-handed). The five movements can be played as a "suite" or independently as the performance context requires. This is an ideal piece for sacred contexts as well as the recital hall. adv. high school/college.[1]


Daniel Heslink has created a truly "multi-cultural" setting for this great traditional American hymn. The arrangement requires a 5-octave marimba and one-handed roll technique with each hand. The different roll notations are clearly marked. The piece begins with a standard rendition of the hymn in four-part choral style. Variation I, also in a four-part homophonic style, is more contemporary sounding with its use of quartal harmony. Independent rolls with each hand are used throughout. Variation II is patterned after the performance practice of West African players, employing an independent ostinato in the left hand juxtaposed against polyrhythmic melodic fragments in the right hand, from which the theme gradually emerges. Variation III suggests the textures of the Japanese Koto, and the fourth variation is a short flourish that moves to a final "amen." Most movements contain an optional segue ending that allows the player to move through the sections without a break, if desired. This is a delightful setting of an old favorite, and would be suitable for a church service or recital hall. - Tom Morgan, August 2001[2]



Commercial Discography

Recent Performances

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

Ancient Visions - Percussion Sextet
Fantasia for Bar Percussion Instruments - Percussion Octet
Five Hymns for Marimba - Marimba
The Parables - Percussion Duo; Narrator
Theme and Variations for Snare Drum - Snare Drum
Variations on Amazing Grace - Marimba

Additional Resources