Fight or Flight

for concert band • 5 minutes • Grade 4

Commissioned by North Gwinnett Middle School Symphonic Band, Sugar Hill, Georgia
Mary Wilson and Hunter McRae, Directors

Published by Tapspace.

"Fight-or-Flight" is a term used for the stress response stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system in animals. When a threatening situation is detected, such as being confronted by a predator, this response can activate an accelerated heartbeat, heightened sense awareness, and a rush of adrenaline to help the animal prepare to survive through aggression (fight) or escape (flight). As humans, this response is wired into our brains from prehistoric times, and it persists with us today despite the fact most of us don't live with the immediate threat of being hunted as prey. 

Like the fight-or-flight response, the piece aims to create adrenaline from uncertainty. It opens with a mysterious quote from a solo flute introducing the main theme which is constructed from two different tri-tones in a phrygian mode. This quickly grows through a hopeful build into an action-packed series of events. Driven by syncopated rhythms, harmonic shifts, and dense layers, this piece will keep audiences on the edge of their seats with excitement!


3 Flutes
3 Clarinets in Bb
Bass Clarinet in Bb
2 Alto Saxes
Tenor Sax
Baritone Sax
3 Trumpets in Bb
2 French Horns
3 Trombones
Percussion 1: Timpani
Percussion 2: Glockenspiuel, Xylophone, Chimes, Brake Drum
Percussion 3: Snare Drum, Military Drum, Claves
Percussion 4: Concert Toms (4), Triangle
Percussion 5: Doumbek, Tam Tam (shared), Tambourine
Percussion 6: Suspended Cymbals (regular, splash, china), 2 cowbells
Percussion 7: Crash Cymbals, Shekere, Mark Tree, Temple Blocks, Vibra Slap, Tam Tam (shared)
Percussion 8: Bass Drum, Shaker, Guiro, Tam Tam (shared)