Hymns and Carols are the two main sources for the melodies that are associated with traditional Christmas music. While hymns are predominately sacred, the historical roots of carols are in religious and pagan folk music and dance. The latter association with pagan and dance music has throughout history brought carols alternatively in and out of favor with Christmas worship. Fortunately, interest in Christmas music has grown in the 20th century, and has led to the popularity it presently enjoys.
Patapan is a French Noel attributed to Bernard de la Monnoye who lived from 1641 - 1728. The title refers to the beating of a drum, and the lyrics also mention other inst-ruments (pipes, fife, and flute). As with many Christmas tunes, Patapan reflects the joyous union of Christmas music with dance, as the lyrics express: "When you play your fife and drum, how can anyone be glum?" The melody is complimented in this arrangement by the use of a lyrical folk song also used by Tchaikovsky in his 1812 Overture.
This arrangement for saxophone quartet, rather than favoring a soprano solo with accompaniment, strives to include all the players in the music making, particularly by distributing melodic material. In addition, all dynamics and articulations should be taken as suggestions only, as performers are encouraged to make their own interpretations.
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