Basic Information

Composed by James Swearingen
Published by C.L. Barnhouse
Grade 3
Length: 6 minutes 30 seconds

Teaching Concepts

Time Signature: 4/4, 3/4, 6/8
Key Signature: Eb, Bb
Tempo: Quarter note = 84, 120, 92-96, 120, 100-104, 84
Other Information: Like most of James Swearingen's music, this is packed with teachable concepts. First is switching between a duple and triple meter. Next, the piece is constantly changing style, from staccato, to accented, marcato and legato. This piece will give directors an opportunity to teach the difference between > and ^ accents. There are also duple notes printed in the 6/8 sections, which may be a new concept for some players. Finally, this piece will take quite a bit of endurance and will help to teach players to rely on air instead of their chops alone to make it through.

Program Notes

Eminent composer James Swearingen once again shows the reason for his exceptional popularity as a writer for school bands! This offering utilizes a folk setting that reflects on the beauty and history of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Jim Swearingen has written, and masterfully scored, some of his best themes to date in this composition, which is certain to be considered a significant work. All of the musical qualities you have grown accustomed to are evident in this work, which is perfectly suited for high school/junior high festival and contest performances.

Notes from

Small School Considerations

James Swearingen began his career as a band director in a very small school, and his music reflects this background. Every time the horn is playing an exposed line during Blue Ridge Saga it is cued in another part. Additionally, the clarinet often play in unison when they have the melody making this piece accessible to bands with small clarinet sections. All of this said, there are two things that may cause a problem for some bands. First, you will need a tenor sax (or extensive re-writes to cover the part). Also, there is a baritone solo at measure 119 which is not cued in any other part and will need to be rewritten if you do not have a baritone player.


Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
French Horn I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III

Percussion Requirements and Possible Substitutions

Bass Drum
Cymbals (crash and suspended)
Snare Drum
Tubular Bells

Five players will be required to cover every part in Blue Ridge Saga. If you do not have enough players, keep in mind that the mallets are playing with the upper woodwinds though the majority of the piece. The snare drum and bass drum are crucial to this piece and will need to be covered.

Link to Available Recording and PDF of Score

There is a pdf of the full score as well as a recording available on C.L. Barnhouse's Website.


Blue Ridge Saga on J.W. Pepper:
Blue Ridge Saga on C.L. Barnhouse:
Blue Ridge Saga Information at the Wind Band Repertory Project: