FOR PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE • 2008 • 4 MINUTES • Med-ADVANCED
Commissioned by the Lanier Middle School Percussion Ensemble from Buford, GA – Hunter McRae, Director. Premiered at the 2008 Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic in Chicago, IL.
Published by Tapspace.
Dystopia was written in 2008 for the Lanier Middle School percussion ensemble from Buford, Georgia under the direction of Hunter McRae. Around the time we were coming up with the concept of what to do with this piece, I had been doing some film scoring work for low budget horror films. So the crew at Lanier came up with the idea to try capturing a similar sense of tension, action, and suspense these films exhibit, but in a performance piece written specifically for percussion instruments. Some interesting textures are achieved by way of the bowed waterphone, tam tam, and vibraphones, and the guttural, groaning bass drum achieved by creating friction using a rubber ball drug against the large drumhead. Frequent use of tight intervals and dissonant melodies add to the tension driven by a syncopated ostinato in 5/4.
This type of music isn’t conventional in its melodic or harmonic functions, rather it intends to to manipulate emotions through an audible landscape. It should get under the listener’s skin. Essentially, this is program music designed to take listeners on a journey of their own images. There isn’t a literal story being told here, but its structure takes us from quiet mystery to suspenseful pursuit, then action-based escape. These dramatic elements should allow each performer or listener to choose his or her own adventure and have a little fun letting the music create a scary story line of their own.
Dystopia premiered at the 2008 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.