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VIEW SCORE: SPIN (SCORE–PDF)
INSTRUMENTATION: 4 Flutes (1st doubling piccolo), 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, *Contrabassoon (opt.), *Eb Clarinet (opt.), 4 Clarinets in Bb, Bass Clarinet in Bb, *Contrabass Clarinet in Bb (opt.),2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, 3 Trumpets in Bb, 4 Horns in F, 3 Tenor Trombones (*3rd optional), *Bass Trombone (opt.), Euphonium, Tuba, 7 Percussion
PERFORMANCE NOTES: “SPIN” is a raucous, rock-inspired ride full of churning rhythms and explosive ensemble playing. A group with strong players will enjoy this unbridled joyride, as will their audience!
v spin [spin]:
1 a whirling or turning motion
2. To seem to be whirling, as from dizziness; reel
3. To ride or drive rapidly
I wanted to write a fast, short, exciting piece for band, and I actually had a good idea for an opening that I had sketched out months earlier in a rare moment of what is sometimes called “inspiration”—that elusive thing that composers, by the definition of our job, have to go out and find and can’t wait around for, lest we be “unemployed composers.”
It was a rock- or blues-influenced little idea, and I felt good about it, but I didn’t want to write a rock or blues piece—that’s been done plenty. I had, in my other recent work, been experimenting with a technique of composition called interval cycles, in which layered sets of intervals dictate the harmonic motion of a piece. Very often this technique can lead to thorny and dissonant sounds, but I’ve been interested in how they can weave through interesting consonance as well, and in this I found my mission for this piece: How could I write a tightly-woven work using interval cycles, but still make it listener-friendly and exciting to an audience? After a week or so of confronting this problem, I came up with a harmonic sequence that I thought would do it. SPIN is constructed on a set of 6 chords that cycles from bluesy to dissonant and back and then repeats.
“Spin” has multiple meanings in this piece: The dissonant chords often sound as if they’re spiraling upward and out of control, dizzy; the interval cycles themselves continue to work through their spinning cycle, giving the piece its propulsion; and the driving rhythms continue to accelerate until they take over the piece, as if the group is losing control of this machine they’ve taken out for a spin. Enjoy the ride.