'Scenes from Sherwood' by Dan Jenkins was commissioned by Bones Apart in 2012. It is a fun portrayal of Robin Hood, a legendary tale from English folklore.
Dan says: "This is a brief telling of the Robin Hood story, shown in scenes like a film. We start in the open, rolling countryside of middle England, but quickly disappear into the forest; dark, green, seemingly deserted, calm but wary. But figures dart between the trees, and forest dwellers lower themselves slowly down from the canopy. The group of men gather and Robin himself appears. But he is not the jolly and popular hero of legend, he a warrior and an outlaw, heroic yes, but hardy and serious.
Soon, Friar Tuck rolls up, and he can be heard singing in the trees before he does so. As in the 1991 film, he is devoted to beer, and his attempts to sing the medieval song ‘Gaudete’ are riddled with hiccups. As he tries to round his efforts off with a pious ‘Amen’, Maid Marion appears. As with Robin’s character, she is nothing like the demure damsel of tradition; nothing like a dame. No, this Maid is a full-blown seductress, a smoky siren, and Robin is instantly bewitched. Cartoon-like, his eyes pop out on stalks as she dances round him, casting her veils, and his efforts to join in are clumsy and ignored. But she does finally offer three kisses, full of promise.
But then comes the spanner in the works, here, of course, in the form of the Sheriff of Nottingham. He is a dodgy, podgy man, but has his troops ready to attack the brigands of the forest. They advance and proclaim territory (musically speaking), but soon we can hear Robin’s men fighting back with his motif. Arrows fly dangerously back and forth in the battle, and with a climactic blow the Sheriff is struck, and Robin and his motif have triumphed, in the major key, of course!
After the battle, the dwellers return to their tree houses and the music returns to the uneasy calm, and we end the story in that dark, dangerous ancient forest.
Musically, the piece has a simple binding idea of three notes. Mostly they just rise and fall, or fall and rise, within the space of a tone, but when the stodgy Sheriff comes along they are simply repeated, the same note three times. As he dies, his version of the three notes dies with him.
Trombone-wise, I’ve found the age-old ‘trick’ of the instrument, the glissando, to be very useful in this piece, and have used it to depict several things. It can be heard as Robin’s men lower themselves from the branches, and when they re-ascend to them after the battle. During the battle itself, fearsome glissandi are the arrows whizzing between the rivals, and one particular screamer is the Sheriff’s fatal shot. Robins ‘cartoon eyes’ while Maid Marion is entrancing him was an obvious glissando moment, and earlier on, when Friar Tuck drifts into a drunken slumber while singing, a sort of speeded-up-record glissando brings him back to us!"
Difficulty level: Advanced
Score and parts included
Duration: 10 minutes