Buffalo Jump Ritual

Title: Buffalo Jump Ritual
Date of Composition: Copyright © 2000 Daniel Bukvich
Level of Difficulty: High School
(grade 3 1/2)
Instrumentation: Wind Band
(only uses two tympani, no mallet percussion, but extensive use of other percussion; same instrumentation as “Incantation and Dance” by John Barnes Chance: one flute part, two clarinet parts)
Ensemble Set-up: Bukvich Symphonic Band Diagram
Performance Time: 7:16
Publisher: Wingert-Jones Music
11225 Colorado
Kansas City, MO 64137-2502
or toll-free 800-258-WJMO
Program Notes:

Buffalo Jump Ritual” was written for the Montana All-State Band. Bukvich was commissioned to write a piece playable by and accessible to most Montana school bands, with a Montana theme. The title is derived from the ancient American Indian practice of driving herds of buffalo over a cliff, when hunting for large quantities of meat. After weeks spent locating and herding the buffalo, and prior to initiating the stampede that would lead them over the cliff, a ritual was performed in which the tribal elders or medicine men would hit rocks together and chant softly.

While working with the Great Falls Symphony on the piece, “From the Journals of Lewis and Clark”, band director Bill Larson took Dan to visit Ulm Pishkun, a famous buffalo jump site outside of Great Falls, Montana. Ulm Pishkun is possibly the largest buffalo jump site and was used by the men and women of the Great Plains between 900 and 1500 A.D. The cliffs there extend for more than a mile and below them, approximately 13 feet of compacted bison bones have been uncovered. Visiting the site made a great impression on Bukvich. When the opportunity came for him to write a piece for Montana high school students, he thought that this would be a great subject to use because it lent itself to borrowing some musical concepts from John Barnes Chance and Vaclav Nelhybel.

Buffalo Jump Ritual” is a grade 3 1/2 piece, with some challenging woodwind parts, but only 2 timpani and no extended techniques. Much of the melodic material of the work is pentatonic in nature, while traditional harmonic progressions create a strong sense of tonality.

Portions of the program notes extracted from “The Careers and Works of Emerging Composers of Music for the Wind-Band: Discussions with Jack Stamp, Thomas Duffy, Andrew Boysen, Jr. and Daniel Bukvich” by James P. McCrann; edited for content by Susan G. Weaver.

FAQ: What kind of rattles should be used?
Latin Percussion, yellow, plastic maracas are what Dan had in mind. What makes them a rattle is you hold them over your head and shake them violently - they can be played in unison with a drum to give them a Native American sound. If you would rather use some other kind of "rattle", you are encouraged to "go for it."

Recordings: Details about recording(s):
  • Performer(s): University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music Wind Ensemble
  • Conductor: Al Gemberling
  • Recording engineer(s): Recording Engineer, Al Gemberling
  • Digital mastering: Digital Sound Mastering, P.K. Northcutt II

File(s) available:

Recording(s) posted: [2002-04-26 00:00:00]

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