Thrillseeker (brass quintet)
I grew up dreaming of roller coasters. The metal beasts have always piqued my interest, and the stories my parents would tell me of their own adventures at amusement parks only increased my longing for them. As such, when I set out to write Thrillseeker, I expected to be inspired by speed and gravity and the unexpected.
That didn’t quite go as planned.
Instead, the more I thought about my favorite coasters, the more I realized they were only made complete by the complementary moments of quiet I found throughout each park as I traveled from ride to ride. Thrillseeker took on a new life at that point, aiming to highlight the nuanced chaos of theme parks as a whole.representing the less obvious joys found between the towers of chaos and screams as much as the exhilaration of a fast ride. It also morphed from a multi-movement, strictly notated piece to a small suite of quasi-independent pieces. Each relates to the others, but ultimately the ensemble can decide what combinations to program on each concert. A successful performance of Thrillseeker should whisk the audience through a variety of emotions and colors, leaving them with a sense of peacefulness and calm.
Notes to the performers:
Thrillseeker is designed to be modular. That said, if your brass quintet is programming some combination of parts that includes the rest, I highly recommend thinking first about where that movement will fit in the emotional and/or musical arc you hope to create in the piece as a whole. You might also make the conscious choice to have the rest stick out as one of the lone moments of explicit structure; that’s okay too.
If you or your ensemble is new to text scores, here are a few questions I find it helpful to consider when approaching a new work: will you plan an approximate duration of each movement or let them run their course naturally? Are there certain timbral effects you’d like to include (or avoid)? Will you use extended technique or stick to traditional playing? Will you incorporate sounds beyond those your instruments produce? Are there any intricacies within the text that might suggest an artistic opportunity? The answers to these questions may vary individually or change from performance to performance. As such, you may find it useful to talk through the piece after each concert and compare what you liked and what you didn’t. Though experimenting is encouraged, it’s not uncommon for a group to fall into a similar style of playing for each iteration of a text score. This is not “wrong” or a bad interpretation. Breathe easy.
If it makes you the most comfortable to determine the structure of your piece in advance, that’s absolutely okay. If you prefer to improvise at the performance, that’s good, too. My goal with text scores is to give musicians the opportunity to think and interact in terms of gesture rather than explicitly-notated rhythms and reactions.