Truth or Consequence was written during the convergence of 2016 and 2017. During this time, the political landscape in the United States encountered high tensions unlike anything it’s ever seen. As I write this, it’s a time where facts often seem selective and manipulated in ways to best calibrate media coverage for political gain. As a result, the concept of truth has seemingly become endangered to the point where personal opinion can be passed of as fact however false it may be. This frightens me and I fear the consequences the world will face as a result. 

The preceding statement is the context from which this piece was written. Truth or Consequence is not intended to carry a political message or tell a story. It’s an abstract expression of darkness, uneasy tension, surprise, power, and anger. One of its primary compositional techniques is comes from frequent syncopation, where the grounded sense of a downbeat is displaced, leaving the listener a bit uneasy. After an initial scene of bleakness, a droning low rhythm builds to a massive unison climax of dread. This followed by an immediate segue into a fast-paced ostinato from which a disjunct melody reveals the primary theme. This propels us to an stark interlude where unpitched percussive effects are created by the performers’ voices in sharp, rhythmic counterpoint. Scratching, scraping, shaking, and abrasive sounds weave into a contrapuntal fabric that hand off into conversational bursts of military drums, followed by an increasing tension which maintains its intensity through the final impact.

Truth or Consequence was commissioned by Russ Rossi, Jason Goyda, Joshua Bujakowski, Joe Spinogatti, and David Cornelius, directors of the Penn-Trafford High School Percussion Ensemble from Harrison City, Pennsylvania where it premiered in Winter 2017.


Header photo: trevorklatko