The Charge of the Snail Brigade

Published by Kjos Music Publishing
Catalog # 6335 

SA/simple percussion/piano
Secular text in English by Felix Aspersa
Difficulty rating (1-5): 2

 listen to Charge of the Snail Brigade

erformed by the Kjos studio choir

I found this text tucked under a rock in our side garden. The garden gnome seemed to be winking at me as I brushed off the dirt and leaves and unfolded the paper, all damp and slightly slimy. Who could have written such a wacky parody of Tennyson’s famous The Charge of the Light Brigade? We’ll never know, as the poet apparently wanted to throw us off the (slimy) trail by using what  looks to be  a nom de plume (nom de slime?). As I sleuthed this all out, Felix Aspersa seems awfully similar to the Latin name for the common brown garden snail Helix Aspersa. After doing all sorts of research, I can assure you that I now know more about garden snails than just about anybody, so please form a line to the right if you want any questions answered.

When I went to set this text, I was all primed to write an up tempo battle scene, complete with trumpet sounds in the piano part heralding the call to battle. When I finished the piece (or thought I had finished it), Erin Watson at Kjos Music suggested it would be far funnier to intro the piece in the piano as I had written it, but then have the snails “charge” in ferociously at barely half tempo. This also set up some other avenues to explore to gain more comedic effect.

From a Choir Member:

Dear Paul Carey,

I really enjoy your song I think it is very funny and exciting and strong song.  I am a 5th grader in the chorus and enjoy singing your song snail brigade.  Also I have never thought about how hard it is for snails to get food. The next time I see a snail I will try to let it get some food! :]  I am not sure if we are doing any other of your songs but I will check.   

a fifth grader from Mrs.Schmeter's chorus,
Julia D.



Half a leaf, half a leaf
Half a leaf onward
Into the garden crawled the six hundred,
Half a leaf, half a leaf
Half a leaf onward
Into the garden slid the six hundred;
"Forward, the Snail Brigade, Charge for the greens" he said.
Chewing the cabbage heads
Crawled the six hundred, slid the six hundred.

Blue jays to right of them,
Robins to left of them,
Thrushes in front of them bashing shells asunder;
Gardeners to right of them,
Gardeners to left of them,
Gardeners in front of them,
Someone had blundered,
Salt shakers thundered!

Though they're slow escargot, through the escarole
Crawled  what was left of, left of six hundred.
Crisscrossing sage and thyme leaving trails of slime
Slid what was left of, left of six hundred.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to chew and die;
Honour the Snail Brigade, Noble six hundred.



score & audio
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for score and audio

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