This answer by @NReilingh inspired me to trawl the web looking at Sousa music. Feeling that the clarity of orchestration contributes a significant amount to this music, I was pleased to find this original manuscript score of The Stars and Stripes Forever at IMSLP. Can anyone help me decipher what instruments Sousa has scored for (at the left of the first page of manuscript)?

Sure, he probably arranged this for other instrumentations; I'm sure his publisher and a great number of other arrangers have reorchestrated it too. But, I'm keen to find out the instrumentation Sousa originally asked for. Here's what I have so far: Db Piccolo; Oboes; Bassoons; Eb Clarinet; Bb Clarinets; Alto Sax; Tenor Sax (?); ??; ??; ??; Cornets (?); Horns in Eb; not quite sure after this, although presumably Baritone, Trombones, Tuba and Percussion (?).

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    Based on the key signatures, you're right for all the woodwinds. After Tenor Sax comes Baritone Sax. Trumpets come before Cornets. – Carl Witthoft Jul 1 '14 at 11:42
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    Yeah, that makes sense key-sig-wise, too. Having looked for a bit longer, I reckon it's then: 3 Tbns; Euphonium; couple of Tubas… If nobody else posts soon, I'll probably stick an answer up myself later… Would rather get an authoritative answer, from somebody who knows more about these kind of bands than me, though! – Bob Broadley Jul 1 '14 at 11:46
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    Take a peek at the "condensed score" on the same imslp page. Sousa may have written a score for the band he had at that particular time. Re-scoring to match a specific group happens all the time. I had a (college) conductor who added parts for weirdass stuff like contrabass clarinet :-) – Carl Witthoft Jul 1 '14 at 13:00

With a little help from @Carl Witthoft (of course Baritone Sax would be an Eb bass clef instrument following Tenor Sax - doh!), I think I have a pretty good idea of the scoring in this manuscript:

  • Db Piccolo
  • Oboes
  • Bassoons
  • Eb Clarinet
  • Bb Clarinets (2 staves)
  • Alto Sax
  • Tenor Sax
  • Baritone Sax
  • Bb Trumpets (2 staves)
  • Bb Cornets
  • Eb Horns (2 staves)
  • Trombones
  • Euphonium
  • Tubas
  • Percussion

Apologies to anyone who thinks this question (and answer) are a little too specific, I genuinely wanted some help with working out what these instruments were! Hopefully the post has some value for future readers interested in interpretation of original manuscript scores, particularly with regard to instrumentation of this kind of band.


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