Music - The Stars and Stripes Forever - SCW Arrangement

(Repost from 2006 with some updates.) 

I was quite bored in high school so I had a lot of time on my hands.

I saw a man named Rod Miller at Disneyland who had taught himself to play the piano by slowing down piano rolls and working out the fingering and practicing 4-6 hours a day for two years.  (Yes, two years!  I have an album he made after just two years and he was good.)

I thought that sounded fun so believe it or not I bought a player piano ($450.00 for a 1910 Aeolian Grand Upright - paid 1/2 by my Mom and 1/2 from my paper route money) and taught myself to play. 

In honor of the Fourth of July, I present The Stars and Stripes Forever, which I learned by watching Rod play (watching his fingers upside down and backwards, as I looked over the top of the piano), and by listening to player piano rolls, and by practicing several hours a day for two years.

At the end of two years, Rod had a whole portfolio of pieces, but I had maybe three: Stars and Stripes, Maple Leaf Rag, and The Alley Cat Song.  Still, it was good enough for me to perform at the high school talent show.

I must say, this piece is hard.  And I didn't even try to do the piccolo part!  And I can't play it anymore.  Too hard!

Also I used to have enough energy to play God Bless America too, which is tacked onto the end here.  This is my arrangement in that Rod's version was too hard for me!  But it is definitely derived from his version which he would play to finish out the day as his grand finale.


Music - The Stars and Stripes Forever - Funky Doodle Version

My friend Tom who worked for Disney Imagineering used to call the version of Yankee Doodle in America Sings at Disneyland "Funky Doodle."

Below is a YouTube clip of The Stars and Stripes Forever in that same funky style.  I love it!

If you pay attention you'll hear a jazzy version of the piccolo part played Hamond Organ style.

I've started the clip approx where Stars and Stripes begins, but feel free to restart from the beginning! It's a sequence of great patriotic music arranged Disney-style. 



Music - The Stars and Stripes Forever - Piano Transcription

The famous Horowitz somehow transcribed The Stars and Stripes Forever for piano.

Including the piccolo part!

Even as I watch this modern performance by Emily Bear I'm stunned at all of the parts being played simultaneously. 

Here's Horowitz, sadly, without video:

He rides the pedal pretty heavily. I think his rendition of the piccolo part is better than Emily's performance. What I love about Emily's performance is that she doesn't ride the pedal, and with the video you can see what a workout it is to play The Stars and Stripes Forever.


Music - The Stars And Stripes Forever - and 94 Piccolos

I have a set of cassette tapes that are biographies of composers.

Souza is one of the composer in my tape set!

I learned from the Souza tape, many years ago, you know, when cassette tapes were playable, often in vehicles, that Souza woke up one morning with the Stars and Stripes Forever clearly composed in his mind.  He just had to write it down.

One of the more striking bits of Stars and Stripes is the piccolo part near the end.

In the YouTube video below, the orchestra plays it through normally, and then reprises the piccolo part with 94 people!