Programme Notes – Repercussions (2011)

There are three definitions of the noun ‘Repercussion’ – 1) An unintended consequence occurring sometime after an event or action, especially an unwelcome one; 2) The recoil of something after impact; 3) An echo or reverberation.

These definitions all have a relevance to this fifteen minute piece which is in four sections that should be played without a break. Each movement is a consequence of the preceding one, a reaction to the impact of what has just been aurally experienced. The first part is crude and rustic, in a kind of English ‘Mock Tudor’ idiom with much close imitation and characterised by open sounding quartal and quintal harmonies. The ‘reaction’ of the second section is to move the harmonic language into something much more ambiguous in a four minute orchestral diminuendo held together by an insistent repeating note pattern. Following this the third movement ‘responds’ with static gestures and much reverberating sounds on muted brass and metal percussion over which an off stage saxophone blows a plaintive recitative. After this the opening of the finale is childlike and naïve with a return to a neo-sixteenth century harmonic language. The consequence of this is that it initially gets blown aside, but then combines with a brutal theme in the brass, which is in turn overwhelmed by apocalyptic bells and drums that end the work.

There is a fourth made-up ‘definition’ of the title word, literally ‘percussion again’, in that each movement starts with the percussion sounds that have ended the previous section.

Repercussions was commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi, National Band Fraternity and Tau Beta Sigma, National Band Sorority and first performed at Pike’s Peak Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA by the 2011 National Intercollegiate Band conducted by Craig Kirchoff.