Goat! A silly story in sonata form


My one and only piece for brass band, written for Parc and Dare band. I was working a lot for Welsh National opera at the time and someone asked me to make an arrangement of the Welsh folk tune Counting the Goats. I don't as a rule do arrangements, but the tune lodged in my brain and in a short while it had sprouted a very silly story.

In 1907 the rival villages of Pont-y-Pridd and Llantrisant staged a massed cycle race from the Crossed Keys at Llantrisant to the glue factory at Splott. More than two hundred riders took part: small boys, maiden ladies, athletes and white haired old men on tricycles but, the roads being in poor repair, all of them fell off save two - one from each village. The Llantrisant rider took a commanding lead but was hurled from his machine when partisans of the other side drove a herd of goats into his path. Pont-y-Pridd accordingly won the race, amid much recrimination.

The piece tells the story with the precision - and a lot of the daft noises - of a Tom and Jerry score. So far as I know, it is the only brass band piece in existence that calls for a dozen bicycle bells - and a truly Nibelungian noise it is too! It was, I realise decades later, also a structural experiment that made a lot of my more serious music possible, since it tests to destruction my notion of sonata form as a narrative and literary construct. In this case, first and second subjects are the two villages, the race (and illustrated mishaps) are developmental and the recap is when the goat thing happens. That's the nearest you'll ever get to a techincal programme note from me; well, you should never play comedy for laughs.

There is a commercial recording available and throughout the 90s the piece was done a lot. People keep saying they want to publish it, then they don't do it. If you want a set of parts, contact me and I'll publish it myself.


I should add that it commits the cardinal sin of having a brief but exposed solo for second baritone. I am duly ashamed, but not ashamed enough to revise the piece.

Home      next      back