The Published Band Compositions of John Barnes Chance

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Music Education (DME)



First Advisor

Joe Barry Mullins

Advisor Department



The problem of this study was to analyze the five published band compositions of John Barnes Chance (1932-1972): Incantation and Dance (1963), Variations on a Korean Folk Song (1967), Blue Lake Overture (1971), Elegy (1972), and Symphony No. 2 (1978). The design for the analysis of each work included: outline of the form; melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic analysis; and characteristics of scoring and instrumentation. Conclusions were drawn regarding the identification of interpretative problems for conductors. Original source material was obtained through interviews and correspondence with individuals who knew Chance personally. A complete catalogue of the compositions of Chance was compiled. The study contained a biographical sketch of Chance's life with emphasis on aspects influencing his compositional style. The biography included: early years (1932-1951), college education (1951-1956), military service (1956-1959), Greensboro years (1960-1962), Austin years (1962-1966), and Kentucky years (1966-1972). Emphasis was also placed on the influences on Chance by Clifton Williams, Larry Weiner, and Herbert Hazelman. Even though a romantic, Chance's compositional characteristics appeared to be more craft-like than inspired. His methodical nature was reflected in his compositions. Chance's published band compositions were written in a variety of styles and forms, including an incantation, dance, theme and variations, overture, waltz, symphony, march, tarantella, and elegy. The works were frequently sectional, and the parts included both ternary and binary form. Analysis of the works also revealed frequent recurrence of specific compositional techniques, shown by 113 musical examples in the study. Compilation of data regarding the scoring demands of each work was also identified in the analyses. The popularity of Chance's published band compositions from 1956 to 1980 was attributable to the appeal of the works to conductors, performers, and listeners. Each work stood on its own with freshness and clarity, energy and expressiveness, and a unique quality that readily communicates to the listener regardless of the compositional intricacies. The compositions were written for high school bands, and the compositional characteristics researched in this study were intended to provide conductors with added insight that may promote further performance of Chance's works.