Parades Into the Void (tenor trombone and piano)


Run time: approx. 4’20”. Trombone range: G2-F4. A quirky, ominous-but-calm piece originally written for Jordan Aileen Wainwright’s Halloween-themed recital, Parades Into the Void is a decent chop break for the tenor trombonist that also (hopefully) doesn’t make the pianist want to commit murder. The piece includes a couple opportunities for sung multiphonics, which performers can transpose to best suit their voices.


Close your eyes.

In the depths of your mind, imagine yourself within the forbidding stone walls of a cemetery. The moon shines bright above you, and around you, something is beginning to stir. You turn to the crypt behind you, and just beyond its walls, you see just a hint of movement. You look to your left, and there’s another. Behind you, still another. At first, it’s just an impression of a jacket here, a flash of a hand there, but as they adjust to your presence, the creatures emerge.

Your transparent ghostly friends, their original colors muted and drab, begin to shuffle past you. They know you’re there, and normally they’d greet you, but for once, you aren’t their focus. No, they’re heading for something more important than a measly human, and as you look over your shoulder, you see why: someone or something has torn a dark, gaping hole in reality and is beckoning the ghosts to something more.

Your eyes stay shut, and out of the spirits around you, you begin to hear the sounds of an unearthly processional. You see, tonight, your cemetery filled up, and it’s time for your ghosts to go home.

Commissioned by Jordan Aileen Wainwright.

Performance notes:

Parades Into the Void is a quasi-interactive piece for trombone, piano, and an unseeing audience. In short, it is best experienced with eyes closed. Please encourage your audience to keep their eyes closed for the duration of the piece; you could make a note in your program, an announcement before the performance, or, if you’re feeling extra fun, recite the program notes above as a sort of prologue to the music. Because the trombonist moves around during the piece, an unseeing audience will be immersed in this parade of ghosts, magnifying the effects provided in the music.

The trombonist should ultimately decide their own placement for each new position based on the constraints of their venue and their comfortability moving through space somewhat quickly (and as quietly as possible). In some performance situations, beginning offstage may not be possible; however, I encourage you to create a spatial progression that you feel best serves the narrative while maintaining the quality of your performance.

Also worth noting within the music are the use of flutter tongue (three slashes through the stem) and sung multiphonics (the diamond notehead is sung). In the event that you are unable to flutter tongue, a growl is the preferred substitute. Should the multiphonics be out of your vocal range, octave transpositions are appropriate and welcome.

When realizing the glissandi present in the trombone part, the music should feel a little unstable (almost drunk, really; I imagine ghosts aren’t particularly coordinated). At all times, the trombone represents the ghost, while the piano is the anchor to the real world. As such, it is critical that the pianist keeps a more or less consistent time, though some fluctuation within reason is always acceptable. The trombonist is free to slide in and out of exact time as they see fit, though I would recommend keeping roughly consistent time from rehearsals E to F. Otherwise, the pianist will run away without you.

The end of the piece is an echo of the material from the beginning and a brief snippet of the middle, implying the parade continues, just at a distance. Once the piece is complete, let the audience open their eyes at their own pace.

Run time: approx. 4’20”. Trombone range: G2-F4.

Parades into the Void perusal (preview before you buy!)

If you happen to perform this piece, link me the recording and I might put it here.

Past performances:

  • 10/25/2019, Jordan Aileen Wainwright, CSU Fullerton (world premiere)


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