Symphonic Variations on an African Air is based on an African-American song, “I’m troubled in mind.” In his foreword to Twentyfour Negro Melodies, Coleridge-Taylor states, “What Brahms has done for the Hungarian folk-music, Dvorák for the Bohemian, and Grieg for the Norwegian, I have tried to do for these Negro Melodies.
A message from Paul Noble: As the arranger, I want to share with the reader some of the techniques I have employed relating to the performance of the music. With 14 key changes, I have chosen to eliminate all key signatures in favor of an atonal approach. Players may be quite familiar with an F#, but less familiar with the key of F#! Pitch placement has also been an issue, with the decision to maintain it as in the original, seeing that a change of pitch would simply transfer issues without making the music more accessible. The decisions regarding enharmonics is a battle between musical integrity and technical facility. Choices have been carefully made between whether to use, for instance a B# or C§, an E# or F§, etc. Also, there is segmentation of technical runs, ossia options for more difficult ornamentations, and generous cueing of important solo lines. It has been my joy to make this important work available to Concert Bands around the world. PN