Sound and Smoke

Duration: 14′
For Wind Band (Grade 5)
Written for the Peabody Wind Ensemble, Dr. Harlan Parker, Director.
Winner of the 2012 Walter Beeler Memorial Prize.

  • 6 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 6 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
  • 6 Bb Trumpets, 4 F Horns, 3 Trombones (3=bass), Euphonium, Tuba
  • 6 Percussion:
    • Timpani
    • Bass drum, crash cymbals, sizzle cymbal, wind chimes, slap stick, large tom-toms
    • Suspended cymbal, marimba, snare drum, bell tree, hi-hat 1
    • Vibraphone, chimes, sleigh bells, hi-hat 2, large taiko drum
    • Vibraphone (separate), glockenspiel, china cymbal, crash cymbals
    • Tam-tam, triangle, crotales, triangle, splash cymbal, xylophone
Program Note

Both the title and concept of Sound and Smoke were derived from a line from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Faust, when Faust equates words to “mere sound and smoke” and declares that “feeling is everything.” Each of the two movements has been given an abstract, parenthetical title to further incorporate Goethe’s conjecture that words will never be able to fully express what feelings and, in this case, music can. Therefore, these titles serve merely as starting points for personal interpretation and should not interfere with the music itself.

The first movement, (feudal castle lights), blurs the many different timbres of the ensemble to create a resonant and slowly “smoldering” effect. Because reverb is essentially built into the orchestration, harmonies must shift using common tones and are always built upon the notes preceding them. The second and final movement, (avalanche of eyes), opens with an alternating unison-note brass fanfare that is then spun out into a fast-paced toccata. Suspense and excitement are created as the spotlight moves quickly between the various colors of the ensemble and the fanfare is transformed.

The original concept of “sound and smoke” unifies these two otherwise dissimilar movements; often times ideas are presented and then promptly left behind or transformed. Musical events therefore appear and dissipate as quickly as sound and smoke.

Perusal Score – Performance materials can be acquired in the store.
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