Libby Larsen used three inspirations from her life to write Hambone. First, she was inspired by early rock ‘n roll rhythms, particularly those written by Bo Diddley, from her high school days when she had her own rock band. The second inspiration is the African-American tradition of hamboning—clapping and slapping to create fun, new rhythms, and finally the melodies of the traditional cakewalk, reminiscent of Debussy’s “Golliwog’s Cakewalk.” The curriculum explores all three of these inspirations with various musical and visual examples, and explains African American oral traditions, linking this piece to places all over the world, from Ghana and the Ivory Coast to Paris, France.


4-B flat clarinet 1
4-B flat clarinet 2
4-B flat clarinet 3
2-B flat bass clarinet
2-E flat alto saxophone 1
2-E flat alto saxophone 2
2-B flat tenor saxophone
1-E flat baritone saxophone
4-B flat trumpet 1
4-B flat trumpet 2
3-B flat trumpet 3
4-F horn
4-Trombone 1
4-Trombone 2
2-Baritone B.C.
2-Baritone T.C.
1-String Bass
2-Percussion 1: Woodblock, Samba Whistle, Cowbell
2-Percussion 2: Cowbell, Maracas, Snare Drum, Triangle
2-Percussion 3: Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tom-toms (2)
1-Percussion 4: Chimes, Xylophone, Bells

Meet The Composer

Libby Larsen (b. 24 December 1950, Wilmington, Delaware) is one of America’s most prolific and most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 200 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral and choral scores. Her music has been praised its dynamic, deeply inspired, and vigorous contemporary American spirit. Constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles and orchestras around the world, Libby Larsen has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory.

Libby Larsen has received numerous awards and accolades, including a 1994 Grammy as producer of the CD: The Art of Arleen Augér, an acclaimed recording that features Larsen’s Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Libby Larsen is a vigorous, articulate champion of the music and musicians of our time. In 1973, she co-founded (with Stephen Paulus) the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum, which has been an invaluable advocate for composers in a difficult, transitional time for American arts. Larsen’s commitment to the wider issue of music in society has led her to activity on a national level: she has served on the boards of the American Symphony Orchestra League, Meet the Composer, and on the Music Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been Vice President of the American Music Center and a director of the College Music Society. Consistently sought-after as a leader in the generation of millennium thinkers, Libby Larsen’s music and ideas have refreshed the concert music tradition and the composer’s role in it.

About The Premiere

This piece was premiered on December 9, 1999 at the Blake School in Minneapolis, MN under the direction of Brian M. Olson.