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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reflections on 'Time'

It has been more than two years since I have constructed that conservatively structured marching band suite entitled 'The Elements of Time' which served as my debut opus into the realm of Marching Band Original Music. Since its completion, only two bands have taken the piece by the horns and performed it on the field. The first band, the Harrah High School marching band directed by Martin Andraszek, is the ensemble that it was respectively written for. I had the pleasure of joining the band in rehearsal as they prepared for the Konawa Band Festival in Konawa, Oklahoma. After initially seeing the performance, I had big grin on my face - not because it sounded fantastic (which it did) but because I had flashed back to my times in the Lafayette High School Band when I spent my years admiring the great composers/arrangers that put together our marching band shows I came to know and love. Suddenly it dawned on me, I was becoming those greats. Granted, I wouldn't dare compare myself to Scott Hickey....and certainly not Key Poulan, but it was definitely a start.

Let's back up a minute - it's not fair to actually call the Harrah High School band fantastic as what helps a group most is the criticism. They were very good for a small band taking on a piece that was OBVIOUSLY written with a larger band in mind. That was the first mistake I made when writing 'Time'. I wrote it with the Lafayette Band in the back of my head and theirfor many of the big hits and chord progressions sounded very hollow. This is an important lesson for anyone to learn when writing for an ensemble - the size of the group matters immensely.

On that Saturday, as the band was dressing for the performance I flipped through the program to notice that Martin had changed the title's to three of the four movements. This is not typically something that is done with respect to great composers.....however, me maintaining current Amateur status had come to the realization that he had very good intentions on change the names of the movements and I almost considered changing them to those names myself. The fact of the matter is that the title I gave to the movements were NOT 'Elements of Time' Perhaps I could have gotten away with calling the suite "Reflections of Time' and that would have suited the movement breakdown better. This fact was further brought to my attention when the Fox High School Marching Band (Missouri), directed by Matt Rice, bought the score from Impact Marching and changed the title of the entire piece to "Insomnia: Journey through a Sleepless Night."

Unfortunately, you can't hear the music as well in that video. If you are a friend of me on facebook, you can check out a better video at the following link.....

The FHS Marching Band's video also includes the last movement, which the Harrah Band had not yet had on the field when I visited. That was the other part of the suite I would have fixed. I really did not like the beginning of the last movement. I originally wrote that with the Salvador Dali painting of 'melting clocks' in mind, however it did not fit the rest of the piece very well and just sounded odd.

Overall, as a personal reflection writing the 'Elements of Time' served as a good experience for me, and taught me a lot of valuable lessons about writing for Marching Band that I have applied to my other two marching band works 'Traffic' and 'Joy! Reconstructed.'

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