TITLE: WE FIVE KINGS
COMPOSER: Arranged by Mark Williams
PUBLISHER: Alfred Music
GRADE LEVEL: 2 (Medium Easy)
This piece is an excellent way for students to learn that not every piece of music is in 4/4 time. “We Five Kings” is a clearly written piece of music in 5/4 time for band. The phrasing of the eighth notes in 5/4 time are 3,3,2,2. This rhythmic variation works very well indeed and is a refreshing change to constantly hearing music in 4/4 or 3/4.
There are excellent dynamic shadings throughout with carefully indicated crescendos and diminuendos.
A very effective modulation occurs from the key of C minor to D minor, using a rhythmic sequence, providing an emotional boost to the composition.
Included are lively percussion parts that are enjoyable to play and that do not overpower the ensemble.
The insertion of the song, “Greensleeves” in the middle of the arrangement is a pleasant touch. Perhaps the percussion could lay out (tacet) for this section and reenter in measure 35, in order to achieve a contrast and add tonal variety to the piece.
The main theme is stated by unison trumpets, or by trumpets playing in parallel thirds, and each phrase is cleverly extended with rhythmic figures stated by the full band.
Beginning in measure 47, a director must be careful that the low brass and woodwinds do not overpower the background figures stated by the flute and oboe in octaves. These figures can be totally lost if not balanced correctly. I suggest that the bells double the flute and oboe figure to allow it to project a bit.
Beginning in measure 39, Williams makes good use of pedal points to add color and sonority to the music.
The ranges are comfortable: the second clarinet is below the break, and the F. Horns and trumpets are in an easy range.
I recommend this arrangement as a first-rate selection for teaching 5/4 time, along with phrasing, dynamics, and marcato style playing. The marcato articulation should be played with a slight separation between notes.
A very light, but clever ending completes the piece.
This piece is an excellent way for students to learn that not every piece of music is in 4/4 time.
To purchase at Alfred Publishing: We Five Kings