From the Black Belt

Seven Little Pieces

Flute 1, Flute 2, Oboe, Clarinet 1 in B, Clarinet...


Prolific and influential, many call William Grant Still the "Dean of African American composers" and it’s not hard to see why. The first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television, William Grant Still broke barriers. 

The “Black belt” refers to a region in the southern United States that was distinguished by the color of its fertile soil. It was an area whose rich economy was based on cotton and tobacco plantations that were controlled by rich white people and worked by poor black laborers. Still’s piece From the Black Belt from 1926 is presumably a musical representation of these laborers. He described its seven parts in the following ways:

  1. Li’l Scamp If one were to base his judgment on the volume of sound, he would think this little fellow, who delights in playing childish pranks, a big scamp. But the aptness of the title is determined by the brevity of the piece rather than by the volume of sound.
  2. Honeysuckle A musical suggestion of the saccharine odor of the honeysuckle.
  3. Dance This title is self-explanatory.
  4. Brown Girl A tone picture of a lovely girl.
  5. Mah Bones Is Creakin’ An old man, afflicted with rheumatism, complains loudly.
  6. Blue The lament of a weary soul.
  7. Clap Yo’ Han’s The participants in a game for children form a circle and clap their hands at intervals.
Ensemble: Chamber Orchestra
Duration: 12:00
Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Score Type: Full Score
Product Type: Score
UPC: 6-80160-91757-0
ISBN: 978-1-4911-5885-2
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