Audio streaming of entire work available on Soundcloud.
Commissioned by and dedicated to Jonathan Whitaker
Duration: 7 minutes
eight shades of metal is a brief virtuoso work for four saxophones and four trombones. The work was commissioned by my good friend, trombonist Jonathan Whitaker for inclusion at the 2014 National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland. I was very intrigued by the idea of writing for this extraordinary combination of instruments because I find interesting areas of similarity and contrast between the two instrumental groups. Both the trombones and saxophones are made of brass and exude a certain powerful timbre. That trombones should produce this power is perhaps not surprising. However, one does not tend to think of woodwind instruments as “powerful.” The saxophone family is the exception to this rule. This may well be due to the origins of the saxophone. The instrument can trace its development back to the ophicleide, a keyed brass instrument of the 19th century. Throughout the composition, I have tried to exploit the innate power found in both instruments. Both family groups tend to be very homogenous when blended together. Therefore, the piece often pits a “choir” of trombones against a “choir” of saxophones. Despite their similarities however, the piece also seeks to highlight the unique differences between the two instrumental families as well. The saxophones tend to get the more technically linear passages while trombones tend to provide powerful jabs and building chords throughout. The trombones also make use of their various mutes to illustrate the ability to significantly morph their timbre as compared to the saxophones. There is no programmatic element to the composition. Given my general interest in fast, rhythmic music, I merely sought to create a rollicking good time for the performers. It’s my hope that this translates well and that audiences experience a similar joy.