Rites of Tamburo

Robert W. Smith
Belwin-Mills Publishing, 1999


Rites of Tamburo (1999) is an exciting programmatic piece for your middle school aged concert ensemble.  A nineteen measure “mysterious” introduction features wind chimes, bells, and chimes playing a repetitive flowing rhythm while the horn and flute play half and quarter note chant-like lines that weave in and out of each other.  The band adds to the mystery by making hissing and breathing effects
while this is all happening.

At measure 20, Smith asks for “overwhelming energy” as the woodwinds establish the new tempo with a repeated syncopated figure.  Brass build bell-tone chords, leading to a true cluster-chord (Smith writes “pick-a-note”) pushes into a “comfortable groove” at measure 36.

After 36, the only really new material happens when the band goes into 3/4 time for eight measures at 123, “with unyielding intensity”.

Performance Notes

Rites of Tamburo (1999) was commissioned by and dedicated to Dr. Anne Hardin and the E. L. Wright Middle School Band of Columbia, South Carolina.

Musical Challenges

This piece is almost a cliché of Robert W. Smith’s work.  From the tone clusters at measure 35, to the energetic and audible breathing in the introduction, to the exciting and fast-paced Latin percussion writing at measure 36, this piece has all the earmarks of a Robert W. Smith work, including that students love to play it

Take care that the performers’ enthusiasm doesn’t outdistance their technical ability!  It would be very easy to rush these tempos and lose the nice groove that can be established.  This groove all starts with percussionists, probably playing instruments with which they are not familiar!  It would be a very good idea to have a percussion sectional to go over good hand-drumming technique (for the congas), good cabasa technique, etc. so that your percussionists are comfortable establishing and maintaining both tempo and style.

There are several places where balance can be a concern.  In the intro, the low flute voice is really going to have to move air to match even the softest volume the horn should produce.  Make sure that any saxophones playing clarinet cues at 44 do not overpower the clarinet timbre in the ensemble.  All instruments need to be careful not to “bite” too much on the accented, syncopated rhythms at 60.  The key is not to let too much enthusiasm get in the way of a musical performance!

About the Composer

Robert W. Smith (b. 1958) is one of the most popular and prolific composers of concert band and orchestral literature in America today. He has over 600 publications in print with the majority composed and arranged through his long association with Warner Bros. Publications and the Belwin catalog. He is currently published exclusively by the C. L. Barnhouse Company and is the Vice-President of Product Development for C. L. Barnhouse and Walking Frog Records.

Mr. Smith's credits include many compositions and productions in all areas of the music field. His original works for winds and percussion have been programmed by countless military, university, high school, and middle school bands throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South America and Asia. His Symphony #1 (The Divine Comedy), Symphony #2 (The Odyssey) and Africa: Ceremony, Song and Ritual have received worldwide critical acclaim. His educational compositions such as The Tempest, Encanto, and The Great Locomotive Chase have become standards for developing bands throughout the world. His numerous works for orchestras of all levels are currently some of the most popular repertoire available today. His music has received extensive airplay on major network television as well as inclusion in multiple motion pictures. His “Into The Storm” was featured on the CBS 2009 Emmy Awards telecast as the HBO production of the same name received the Emmy award. From professional ensembles such as the United States Navy Band and the Atlanta Symphony to school ensembles throughout the world, his music speaks to any audience.

As a conductor and clinician, Mr. Smith has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, South America and Australia. He has recently completed the production of Symphony No. 3 (Don Quixote), the fourth in a series of compact disc recordings of his best-known works for concert band. In addition, he is co-creator of the Expressions Music Curriculum. This comprehensive Pre-K through 12 music program includes Band Expressions, an innovative new approach to teaching music through the band.

Mr. Smith is currently teaching in the Music Industry program at Troy University in Troy, AL. His teaching responsibilities are focused in music composition, production, publishing and business.