DANCINGS OF THE AIR for concert band (2012)


Duration: 12.5 mins
Instrumentation: 1 or 2 picc.2fl.​2ob.2bn.​pcl.3cl.bcl.​2asx.tsx.bsx.​4tpt.4hn.​3tbn.2euph.2tba.​cb.4perc
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‘For what are breath, speech, Ecchos, musick, winds, But Dauncings of the ayre in sundry kinds?’

Sir John Davies, Orchestra: or, a Poeme of Dauncing (1596)

Dancings of the Air
is a two-movement piece based around the idea of melodic lines emerging from successions of single notes, each of them voiced by a different instrument in turn, and then held on in the background to create constantly thickening and/or shifting harmonies. So although you might not know it, it is rare for two different pitches to sound simultaneously, and quite common for notes to be played by just a single instrument.

In the first movement this idea is explored predominantly in passages of quickish, regularly-spaced, accented notes which tend to fall and then rise again through the ensemble. The longer second movement builds momentum by piling up the ever-higher final notes of stepwise ascents which follow one another in accelerating sequences. Increasingly prominent across the piece as a whole is a slow-moving, gradually rising melody, heard initially in the first movement in a relatively simple scoring for brass, and finally cutting through the busier texture of the second movement's most climactic passage.

Other works for orchestra and large ensemble


Mesh
'…whispering, clamoring...'
Two pieces for brass band