In motion pictures, popular movie composer Jerry Goldsmith liked the sound of the Serpent and called for it in his soundtracks for films such as Tora, Tora, Tora and Alien (see Discography). Several recent historical dramatizations of works by Thomas Hardy (Return of the Native) and Jane Austin (Pride and Prejudice) have included the Serpent, usually playing incidental music. Terry Gilliam's film Time Bandits included a Keyed Bugle and a Serpent in the pit orchestra (playing "Me and My Shadow" to accompany the singing of the time travelers) while they entertain Napoleon. Only the keyed bugle is visible in this scene, but the Serpent can be identified by its sound.
In jazz, there has been no greater Serpent advocate than French musician Michel Godard (see examples in the Discography).
Among contemporary English composers and arrangers, the names of Clifford Bevan (Piccolo Press), Simon Proctor (Heavy Metal Music, Spring Tree Press, and others), and Robert Steadman stand out in their efforts to write for Serpent. Here is a partial listing.
c/o Piccolo Press, 10 Clifton Terrace, Winchester SO22 5BJ, England
Bevan: Variations on "The Pesky Sarpent" (with piano), Bevan: What Shall We Do With the Drunken Serpent? (trio), Bach: Toccata & Fugue in D Minor BWV565 (trio), Arthur Sullivan: The Lost Chord (trio), Bevan: Birthday Fugue (quintet), Albert Ketelby: In a Persian Market (trio), also many others....
In America, c/o Piccolo Press, PO Box 50613, Columbia, SC 29250
8 Henbane Close, Grove Green, Maidstone ME14 5UW, England
Serpent Concerto (with piano or orchestra), A Snake in the Glass (Serpent, harpsichord, glass 'armonica), Amherst Suite (octet), Elegy (with piano), Mamba Samba (with piano), Three Songs for Three Serpents (trio), Original Sin (soprano voice & Serpent), also others....Refer to Heavy Metal Music for address.
NOTE: The Serpent Concerto, revised by the composer as a general work for any bass clef wind instrument, and with piano accompaniment, is published under the title Lyrical Concerto by Southern Music Company.
c/o Vanderbeek & Imrie Ltd., 15 Marvig, Lochs, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9QP, Scotland
Year of the Serpent (trio plus piano or orchestra), Serpent Concerto (with piano or orchestra), Circus Pieces (with piano), Serpent Sonata (with piano), Serpent Studies (several volumes), Suite #1 for Solo Serpent, Suite #2 for Solo Serpent, Three English Folk Songs (with piano), Telemann: Sonata #1, Two's Company (duet), Henry VIII Suite, Red Hot Polka, Arthur Sullivan: Three Little Maids (from Mikado), Three Negro Spirituals (trio), Bass Suite
Air-EV Productions, 675 VFW Parkway, PMB 352, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
Temptation (Serpent & string orchestra), Ancestors (Serpent, digeridoo, shofar)
Poitiers, France and Newark, New Jersey
Quatra Tanka; aka Four Tanka (Serpent & soprano)
Drake Mabry Publishing, San Diego, California
220 East 10th Street, Apt. 5R, New York NY 10003
The Serpent Dances (2000) (Serpent & drums)
This contact information may be out of date, but no further information is available.
Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach)
this piece is not listed for publication, but you can inquire at: The Peter Schickele Rag, PO Box 1188, Woodstock, NY 12498
2-1/2 Varations on "In Dulci Jubilo" (Serpent, koto, crumhorn, musical saw)
[written for an episode of The Prairie Home Companion radio show]
To hear this piece, download the RealAudio clip from the Prairie Home Companion website: phc.mpr.org/performances/20001223/index.shtml
then click on the segement beginning at 1:11:11
Serpens Secundo (2001) (Serpent solo)
Godard has written many pieces for serpent, but most are not published. This selection is published by Drake Mabry, see listing above.
Copyright Paul Schmidt 1997
revised April 2011