Strange Pursuit

Ralph Ford
Belwin-Mills Publishing, 2007


Strange Pursuit (2007) opens with accented and separated notes in the winds while accompanied by a steady eighth note pulse in the percussion section. 
This introduction ends at 10 and gives way to a piano woodwind section with many of the same rhythmic elements.  Measure 19 sees the return of the introduction with flute and oboe joining the percussion with the eighth note accompaniment.  At measure 28 the composer introduces the second theme, this time with long, connected half notes and a lyrical Bb minor melody.  This contrasting middle section continues until we return to the original thematic material at measure 44, this time accompanied by a light, muted trumpet fanfare.  Finally, at 63 the entire ensemble builds a crescendo to a fortissimo ending.

Composed in ABA form, this piece is relatively simple in design, but has enough elements of contrasting style and tonality to challenge and interest a young

Performance Notes

Strange Pursuit (2007) is an exciting, up-tempo piece for your youngest players that will enhance their knowledge of chromatic notes beyond the standard Bb scale.  The tonality of this piece constantly moves between Bb Major and its parallel minor.  It is the composer’s hope that Strange Pursuit will serve as an excellent teaching tool and provide your young musicians with excitement enough to encourage their practice and participation in your band program!

Musical Challenges

Carefully observe all articulation markings, with an emphasis on learning to distinguish between the two types of accents by ear.  There is ample opportunity for contrasting marcato and legato playing in each section.  The tempo is marked
at QN=132, but you may choose to take it as briskly as QN=144.  Be careful not to choose tempo over musicality!  There is a variety of dynamic contrasts and shapes throughout the piece to reinforce teaching concepts in this area.

If marimba is available, please use it instead of the xylophone.  The timpani part is completely optional, but adds more for your young percussionists if these instruments are available.

While range is not an issue for any instrument, the use of chromatic accidentals to provide the shift into Bb minor can cause trouble for a young band.  Reinforcing the rules for accidentals and how they apply will be vital in order to successfully execute this piece!

About the Composer

Ralph Ford is Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Troy University. A native of Panama City, Florida, he has served on the university faculty in numerous areas of expertise since 1986, working mainly as the assistant director, arranger and theory instructor. Since 2001, Mr. Ford has been the conductor of the Troy Symphony Band and Chamber Winds, Jazz Ensemble I, and the director of the nationally renowned "Sound of the South" Marching Band.  He is the Chairman of the Board for the Southeastern United States High School and Middle School Concert Band Clinic and Honor Bands, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Band Association's Hall of Fame of Distinguished Conductors, director of the "Sound of the South" Summer Music Camp and Directors Clinic, chapter sponsor for the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, and is active on several university-wide committees.

Mr. Ford's compositions and arrangements have been commissioned and performed by bands worldwide. His music has been premiered at such prestigious events as the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Convention, the American Bandmasters Convention, and the Music Educators National Conference. Mr. Ford's music is published exclusively by Belwin, a division of Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. where he serves as staff composer/arranger, and has over 130 publications for concert band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and marching band available worldwide. Additionally, he creates special arrangements and compositions for the Troy band program, and is in demand in the United States and Canada as a composer, arranger, conductor, clinician, technology consultant and adjudicator. In April of 2004, Mr. Ford received the Outstanding Artist Award from the Troy University Chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Outside of the field of education, Ralph has composed, recorded, and produced music, jingles and 3D-graphic designs for radio, television, and video productions. He has won numerous "Addies" in addition to recognition from various agencies and international associations for his creative work in the media field.

Ralph is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Music Educators National Conference, the National Band Association, the Troy Rotary Club, Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, Sigma Alpha Iota and Delta Chi, among others.  He is married to Amanda Ford, the band director at Charles Henderson High School, and they reside in Troy with their daughters, Melanie and Abby.