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Darwin’s Worms


for Solo Bassoon and Concert Band

Grade 2.5



  • Solo Bassoon
  • 2 Flutes
  • Oboe
  • 3 B-flat Clarinets
  • Bass Clarinet
  • 2 Alto Saxophones
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Bassoon
  • 2 F Horns
  • 3 B-flat Cornets
  • 2 Trombones
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Triangle
  • Tambourine
  • Xylophone
  • Marimba


Program Notes


While most people know Charles Darwin as the scientist who came up with the theory of natural selection, he was always a consummate scientist and in his later years tried some experiments that, to us, would seem strange. His final scientific experiment involved his son, who was a Bassoonist. His son played his Bassoon while Darwin watched to see if some worms from the garden would respond to the vibrations of the music. Sadly, the experiment failed. In this piece, I reimagine the experiment in the form of a light waltz. The theme is built on a simple two-note motive of an ascending second – the worm theme. As the experiment progresses, the music evolves into more complex forms. In the middle of the piece, we see Darwin’s frustration with how the experiment fails, but in the end, even Darwin, ever the gentleman, knew that a failed experiment teaches us something.

Darwin's Worms for solo Bassoon and Band - score and parts

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