"con islancio"

The highly nuanced Musical Annotation of the Week is...

con islancio

You have probably only seen this annotation in one place: the last section of Chance's Variations on a Korean Folk Song. Wikipedia tells me that con islancio means "with impetuousness", and my usual online musical dictionary agrees. 

Well, at the rehearsals of the Great American Community Band, we heard something different. Yes, Variations was part of our concert lineup, and when Colonel Gabriel came to the con islancio section, first he made a jibe at younger conductors who tell their bands that this marking means "like the islands", but then he explained to us the meaning of this annotation in a much different way.  I can't quote him directly, but I can give you the gist of his explanation.
"islancio" is like a lancer, or someone throwing a lance. It builds up -- starts with slow muscle movements in just the fingers, then the arms, then the shoulders, the torso, the legs; eventually the whole body is moving until the lance is released
 If you listen to the very last variation (3:10 in the video below), the instruments add in one by one until, finally, the bass trombones and lowest brass drop in on a Bb -- this is the release of the lance.

And now, a recording with a figure skater, because if you're like me you never conceived of this piece as a skating routine, but now you will never be able to think otherwise.


  1. I loved playing this piece of music, although I would certainly enjoy playing it while in a group that could handle that tempo. Ah well....
    Do you know which olympics this was from, and did this skater medal?

  2. I just looked it up- she hasn't skated at the Olympics, but she is the reigning world champion. None of her programs listed in her wiki article use the Variations, so I'm not sure where it came from.

    I did not get this piece until a couple of weeks ago- I think part of that is from the lack of work for the trombones, and the fact that I was an immature snot when I played it in high school. And partly due to playing it with a better group, for sure.

  3. I wonder...It seems pretty obvious to me the music is dubbed in over top of the video clip. You cannot hear any ice skate noise and the applause is not there in all of the expected places.
    Could it be possible this is not the piece she skated too?
    If so, wow it really fits well.

  4. I was told by my trombone teacher in high school that the term meant "with venom". I offered that definition when it came up in a choral piece in graduate school, and I was rather embarrassed.

  5. I'd be curious to know where else it turns up. I know I've seen it more than once, but maybe no more than twice. But I can't remember where!