Music for brass quintet




Honstein, Robert

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My thesis composition "Music for Brass Quintet" is a two-movement work of approximately ten minutes in length. The first movement begins with the most elemental of gestures; two notes F and G, some long, suggesting the fragments of an as yet unformed melody, and some short, rapidly repeated with a manic insistence. As the opening ideas are passed between the five instruments, the texture gradually becomes a swirl of activity. Moving through a series of harmonic areas, the music eventually reaches something of an arrival point upon which the dense polyphonic texture instantly switches to a kind of stop-time chorus where tutti articulations of harmonies are immediately followed by solo statements from various members of the quintet. After four iterations of the chord/solo sequence, the Trombone begins a triplet ostinato, on top of which emerge plaintive thirds in the trumpets. The thirds melody descends through the ostinato and is passed to the Horn and Tuba, who carry the melody into the quintet's low register. This prolonged descent from high to low repeats a number of times, getting a bit higher each time. Finally, after the trumpets can go no higher, and the Horn and Trombone no lower, the ostinato cuts off and the Horn and Tuba sound the outlines of an E major chord, with the Tuba playing the lowest E in its range and the Horn playing a G# a 10th above. The second movement begins with a rapid, breathless type of gesture, which is quickly followed by a sad and pathetic melody in Eb. The sad sack melody and the breathless gesture are interwoven over the course of the next minute, before an extended transition begins, using the tail end of the breathless gesture to propel the music into unexpectedly exuberant territory. From this transition emerges a brief statement of a kind of wild dance rhythm after which the music makes an abrupt shift to drunk tavern music. This music is the lazy drunk theme. For the next three minutes or so the lazy drunk music unfolds amidst a series of increasingly ill-tempered interjections from the wild drunk bar peoples. Eventually the wild drunks overcome the carefree lazy drunk and plunge the music into an uncontrollable, bacchanalian, orgy of sound. After the drunks have spent their booze-fueled outburst, a brief coda reiterates part of the sad sack theme, with occasional echoes of the wild drunk music.



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