Anne McGinty
Edmondson & McGinty, 1994


Clouds (1994) is divided into three sections, each a different type of cloud.  The styles of the three sections, therefore, relate to the various cloud forms.  The first section is legato four measure phrases.  At measure 17, the music is much lighter, leading to the darkening thunderclouds.

The thundercloud section is well accented with great confidence!  Tone clusters develop and get extremely thick as the storm develops.  At measure 29, the bells represent raindrops and measure 31 is an aleatoric adventure for the percussion section, where they creatively simulate a thunderstorm for 8 to 10 seconds.  Eventually this storm blows over and the sun returns at measure 40.

The rounded cumulous clouds are contoured by the moving eighth notes.  The style is once again legato.  As the cumulous clouds drift away there is brief coda-like return of the high, wispy cirrus clouds before the piece quietly ends.

Performance Notes

Clouds (1994) is an original composition based on the imagery of different cloud
forms.  The first section depicts cirrus clouds, the white delicate clouds usually found at high altitudes.  Thunderclouds begin at measure 23 and the accents and tone clusters are used to symbolize the increasing electricity associated with these thunder and lightning producing clouds.  Eventually the sun comes out and the sky has the rounded cumulous clouds that gracefully float away.

Musical Challenges

As any time a young band plays a lyrical piece of music, the director needs to make sure to review lyrical playing style.  Clarinets in the “cirrus” section need to make sure they hold their quarter note on beat three of each measure all the way into beat one of the next measure so that their part is able to dovetail with that of the flutes.  As more instruments join in at 9, care should be taken that the half note accompaniment doesn’t overpower the delicate melodic material.

In the “thundercloud” section, students should be encouraged to play with a controlled strong sound, not just allowed to blast and splat.  Reinforce “powerful” or“strong” over “loud”.  As students exit the “thundercloud”, students should be reminded to take deep breaths and to play all the way through each phrase.  Dotted half notes should never cover moving eighth notes.  As the song tapers to its final conclusion, emphasize the students never play softer than they can support.  The bell player should play confidently in the final three measures, feeling free to take a little rubato on the tempo if they are so inclined.

Throughout the piece there are tempo and style changes.  Using a daily warm-up sequence that requires the students to respond to the director’s baton should make these transitions go more smoothly, but with young students, there’s always room for more expression and musicianship.

About the Composer

Anne McGinty is the most prolific woman composer in the field of concert band literature. Her many compositions and arrangements for concert band, string orchestra, flute, and flute ensembles (over 225 titles), all but one of which have been published, extend from the elementary through the professional level. More than 40 of these compositions were commissioned from bands in the U.S. McGinty was also the first woman commissioned to write an original work for the United States Army Band.  That composition, entitled "Hall Of Heroes", featured the US Army Band & Chorus and was premiered in March, 2000, with the composer conducting. She was also commissioned to write an original composition for the Bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Entitled "To Keep Thine Honor Bright," it was premiered in September, 2001.

She began her higher education at The Ohio State University, where Donald McGinnis was her mentor, band director and flute teacher. She left OSU to pursue a career in flute performance, and played principal flute with the Tucson (Arizona) Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Pops Orchestra, and in the TSO Woodwind Quintet, which toured Arizona under the auspices of a government grant.  When she returned to college, she received her Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude, and Master of Music from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she concentrated on flute performance, music theory and composition. She studied flute and chamber music with Bernard Goldberg and composition with Joseph Willcox Jenkins.

She is a life member of the National Flute Association and served on its Board of Directors. She taught flute at several colleges in the Mid-West, taught flute and chamber music to underprivileged children and was leader of a Royal American Regiment Fife and Drum Corps. She continued to perform professionally in orchestras, chamber groups and as a flute clinician for a manufacturer.

Ms. McGinty is also active as a guest conductor, clinician and speaker throughout the United States and Canada. She has conducted regional and all-state bands, given clinics at many state conventions and universities on band performance, literature and emotions in music, and has given speeches at state and national conventions, with many diverse topics, all of which are related to the performance and enjoyment of music and the values of music education.