Four Scottish Dances
Arnold's set, or suite, consists of four dances inspired by, although not based on, Scottish country folk tunes and dances. Although the individual dances are not titled, each is denoted by a separate tempo or style marking.
The composer's notations in the score, including his metronome indications (M.M.), are:
- I. Pesante (quarter note = 104)
- II. Vivace (quarter note = 160)
- III. Allegretto (quarter note = 96)
- IV. Con brio (quarter note = 144)
While Arnold did not title the four pieces individually, his music publisher (Novello & Co) has provided notes, which are often employed by annotators for orchestral and concert programs. The first dance, Novello observes, is "in the style of a strathspey"; the second, a "lively reel." The song-like and graceful third dance evokes "a calm summer's day in the Hebrides"; while the last is "a lively fling."
The dances are collectively intended to evoke Scotland, and utilize timbres intended to imitate bagpipes, as well as musical devices such as reel and Scotch snap rhythms. The composer also employs comic elements, such as a "tipsy" middle section in the second dance, in which the ensemble abruptly slows from a lively vivace to meno mosso (quarter note = 112), whereupon a single bassoon plays a plodding solo marked by upward and downward slides, or glissandi, as well as staggering, syncopated rhythms. (Beethoven employs a solo bassoon for somewhat similar comic effect in the rustic third-movement scherzo — "Merry Gathering of Country Folk" — of his Pastoral Symphony.)
- for wind band by John Paynter, 1978
- for brass band by Ray Farr, 1984
- for piano by John York
- for piano & violin by David Gedge
Selected commercial recordings
- 1959 Malcolm Arnold conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Everest Records SDBR 3021 (re-released on Everest 9006).
- 1979 Malcolm Arnold conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Lyrita LP and CD: SRCD.201
- Dirk dance
- English Dances
- List of Scottish country dances
- Malcolm Arnold
- Scottish country dance
- Scottish highland dance
- Scottish sword dances
- Arnold, Malcolm. Four Scottish Dances. Scores on Demand, Novello & Co. Limited. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- Music Sales Classical (n.d.). Programme Note: Malcolm Arnold Four Scottish Dances (for orchestra) (1957). Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- Foothill Symphonic Winds (n.d.). Music Program Notes: Malcolm Arnold. Retrieved October 22, 2015.