Brass Ensemble and Percussion (4:29) - August 1997


The first piece I wrote was for 11 players: a Brass ensemble with a percussion section. Exactly two years later, I wrote anotherB rass ensemble piece, this one for 15 players. Compared to Scintillation, this piece is more majestic and harmonically complex, but does not seem to retain the former's simplicity and buoyance.

~7~ lacks the theme of King's Entourage and the intended performance group of Nefarium, but all three songs seem to have something in common (besides minor key centers). I think the mood expressed is the most powerful part of this piece. I started it with just the title, ~7~ (pronounced Seven, not Tilde-7-Tilde, by the way). The introduction was written for a friend way back in April but then ran dry on inspiration and shelved it for the whole summer. Just last week I pulled it back into circulation and finished it off, adding about three and a half more minutes of material onto it.

The major theme is first stated by the horns, although there are many idiomatic rhythms that continue to appear throughout the piece. It is divided into three major sections, each one ending in a climax, with each climax slightly larger than the last. For the most part, the first section is in 7/4 time, alternating between 4+3/4 and 3+4/4 (hence, the title). The next section, featuring the tuba as a solo instrument is in 4/4 and the final section featuring the trombones is in 3/4, with a grand conclusion back in 7. I tried to use the instruments both in sections and in groups with one of each instrument in a group. It was quite fun to write, after I had figured out where it was heading.

The three climaxes are all different in form as well. The first climax is a constant build from the beginning to its peak. The second appears quite suddenly with the rising horn line, and seems to be the most exciting, yet the shortest. The last is a series of smaller peaks, rising and falling slightly up to the end.

Like all my pieces, I definitely didn't have a preplanned form before I wrote. I didn't even work out how the piece would end until after I wrote the second climax. The title is a bit odd, but I found it suitable to base the song upon for various reasons. It was also interesting to note that in the final title planning stages I happened to glance up at the clock when it was 4:37 in the afternoon. That was a sign of two things: 1) ~7~ fit the song because of the interplay between 7 and 4 and 3, 2) I was almost late for a rehearsal.

I re-scored a second edition of ~7~ specifically for the Virginia Tech Brass Ensemble. The result was performed in October 1999 and turned out quite well. Lower textures were very muddy in contrapuntal sections, but hearing them helped me to learn what NOT to do.

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