for concert band; 6′ (2006)
(commissioned by the West Allis Central High School Band)
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When conductor Jeremiah Cawley asked me to write a piece for his high school concert band, I wanted to take advantage of the things high school bands do wonderfully: namely, playing with huge amounts of energy, so much that it’s hard to keep in. So “Dynamo” seeks to convert high school student energy into music, through a number of means. First, there are a lot of percussion parts, to deal with the typically endless supply of high-school percussionists. Second, aleatoric effects are written into the piece, where each player plays as fast or slow as they desire, creating a delightfully active cloud of sound within the harmonies given. Third, rhythmic effects pile up into a driving rhythmic texture that allows the players to “rock out” a little. In addition to these elements, Jeremiah told me he was working on the octatonic scale with his students, so “Dynamo” takes that scale as a jumping-off point in creating a harmonic world that feels easily understood by young listeners, but complex enough to be a little surprising and unexpected.