Black Bear Dance

by Pamela J. Marshall

for clarinet ensemble

Duration ~4 minutes


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A jazzy, light-hearted piece for a clarinet ensemble or choir. Fun to play! This clarinet version is a transcription made by the composer of the original version for horns and drums. That composition was supported by the Spindrift Commissioning Guild. Read about the Black Bear Dance project…

The music can be performed as a chamber ensemble – one on a part, or by a clarinet choir.

Instrumentation: Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet 1, Bb clarinet 2, alto clarinet, bass clarinet. An extra part for clarinet 3 is an alternate for alto clarinet. In a choir with few alto clarinets, Bb and alto can double to help the balance.

Composer’s notes:

“In Black Bear Dance for clarinets, I converted the drumming into a rhythmic drone that moves a little with the harmony, and moves around the various parts so no clarinet has to do the drum part for too long.”

“The title comes from a line in the text for my choral piece “Weaving the World“: “and black bears roam the woods unseen”. The choral director rehearsed it a lot, looking for a natural declamation and in-tune intervals and the image of a secret dance of bears stuck in my mind. I worried that the name might imply American Indian, which the music is not. Then on the Internet I found the Bear Dance painting of William Holbrook Beard. Aside from the fact that he was mocking stock-market bears, the image was just right.”


Listen to the premiere in June 2010. The ensemble is the adult clarinet choir at Indian Hill Music School, conducted by Paul Surapine.

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