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 I’ve ever seen. As I write this, it is a time where facts are selective and manipulated in ways to calibrate media coverage for political gain. As a result, the concept of truth has been endangered to the point where personal opinion can be passed off as fact however false it may be. This frightens me, and I fear the consequences the world will face as a result.
The preceding paragraph is the context in which this piece was written. Truth or Consequence is not intended to carry a political message or tell a story. It is an abstract expression of darkness, tension, surprise, power, and anger. One of its primary compositional techniques is frequent syncopation. The grounded sense of a downbeat is displaced, leaving the listener uneasy. After an initial landscape of bleakness, a droning, low rhythm builds to a massive, unison climax of dread which then segues into a fast-paced ostinato in which a disjunct melody reveals the primary theme. A stark interlude occurs midway where unpitched percussive effects are created by the performers’ voices in sharp, rhythmic counterpoint. The primary sounds here are made up of scratching, scraping, shaking, and other abrasive sounds woven into a contrapuntal fabric. The conclusion of the piece is signaled by conversational bursts of militaristic drum statements, punctuated accents, and increasing density of notes.
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 the Winter of 2017.
Header photo: trevorklatko