Modern Music for Serpent 
Since the 1970s, the unique sound of the Serpent has come to be appreciated by more composers and performers. Primary application in new compositions is in the area of film soundtracks, but the easily bent intonation and "new" sound has made more than one jazz musician embrace the Serpent as well. A few brave composers have also written pure music for Serpent.

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.

Clifford Bevan
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

Simon Proctor
The Dairy House, Kirkdale, Loose, Maidstone ME15 0EA, England (new contact information as of 2014)
Phone: 07922-111-695 or 01622-743-801
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...
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.

Robert Steadman
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

Norman Bolter
Air-EV Productions, 675 VFW Parkway, PMB 352, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
Temptation (Serpent & string orchestra), Ancestors (Serpent, digeridoo, shofar)

Drake Mabry
Poitiers, France and Newark, New Jersey 
Quatra Tanka; aka Four Tanka (Serpent & soprano)
Drake Mabry Publishing, San Diego, California

Jim Theobald
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:
then click on the segement beginning at 1:11:11

Michel Godard
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.

The Serpent Website: Return to Index

Copyright Paul Schmidt 1997
revised January 2014