Gollidoll’s Cake-Walk for Clarinet Sextet

Composer
Claude Debussy Transcribed by Keith Terrett
Year of composition
1908
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Classical music
Instrumentation
Clarinet choir
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A transcription of Debussy’s Golliwog’s Cakewalk for Clarinet Sextet, I have changed the title so as not to offend a contemporary/modern audience.

At the time of its composition, Golliwog's were in fashion, due partly to the popularity at that time of the novels of Florence Kate Upton ("golliwog" is a later usage). They were stuffed black dolls with red pants, red bow ties and wild hair, somewhat reminiscent of the black-face minstrels of the time. This is a ragtime piece with its syncopations and banjo-like effects. The dynamic range is quite large and very effective. The B section of this dance is interrupted on several occasions by the love-death leitmotif of Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde, marked avec une grande émotion (with great feeling). Each quotation is followed with banjo imitations. The cakewalk was a dance or a strut and the dancer with the most elaborate steps won a cake ("took the cake").

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