Two Edged Sword is a 6 minute 20 second single movement piece for Brass Quintet and Trap Set composed between July 31st and September 10th, 2014 for the Sovereign Brass ensemble. It was premiered on November 9th by the Sovereign Brass at the Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park Florida which was followed by three more performances: University of South Florida in Tampa, FL (11/10), Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL (11/11) and Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Beach FL (11/11).
The Sovereign Brass is a 6 piece performing ensemble founded by Trombonist Jeffrey Thomas. He, along with trumpet players Tom Macklin and Michael Fee, Kathy Thomas on horn, Bob Carpenter on tuba and Mark Goldberg on drums have been active for over 25 years in Central Florida.
This work was my contribution to our Central Florida Composers Forum‘s first benefit concert tour. The proceeds were donated to K-9s for Warriors. I organized the concert into ten sections that identified a stage in the ‘story arc’ of the war/conflict experience. Composers chose a stage and created music about/inspired by that stage. At the same time as the music was being composed, Poet Al Rocheleau invited his student poets to write a poem about or inspired by one of those stages. During the concert, the poems were read by the poets first and the music followed. I chose Surrender, Duty and Sacrifice. The poem preceding my piece:
SURRENDER DUTY SACRIFICE (Ruth Titus)
The Marines canvassed the school
The day my son,
A tall boy with a child’s heart
Discovered a higher duty.
He brought home an old motor that day
In his shabby Ford pick up
And scrambled proudly to put it together
From parts strewn across the lawn.
The legs he sacrificed
For his country were blown and shattered.
He was flown home with phantom pain.
I.E.D.s were not wagered into this war.
“Mom my legs hurt, I can still feel them”
“Son, you will heal, there is medicine”
Tears fell in curtains over my soul.
I surrendered my grief for a son’s loss.
- To evoke a feeling of pride for our Veterans. The powerful drive of the drums served as a metaphor for a large scale battle that could not be stopped.
- I used driving rock drum rhythms over which the brass are heard playing valiant yet delicate harmonies to evoke elation of battle after being released from a timeless plateau of tension.
- I juxtaposed the familiar perfect 4th interval of Taps over the rock beat in a way that invited sorrow of loss – the other blade of the two-edged sword.
- I organized the overall form around the golden mean ratio. As the work evolved, I added and subtracted beats and bars to suit musical phrases.
- Every part only plays upward moving lines from the beginning until after the drum solo at F. No downward intervals are used, save for moving between different arrangement elements or after the phrases end – after rests. This evokes a tension that builds and builds, the listener craving the release that never comes until the battle itself reaches a peak with the drum solo
- I was looking for a ‘floating’ feeling between the drums and the brass. A feeling that the they were not metrically locked together, but rather shared the same time and space. The first version of the piece put the drums at a tempo 1.618 times faster than the brass tempo – but this proved too difficult for me to count – so dropped the idea for a standard metric sharing.
- To create a modern piece that was easy to read and play by the musicians