for Trombone Octet

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December 14, 2019
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Having written, Le prophète du Seigneur, a serious work for Carl Lenthe and the Indiana University Trombone Ensemble earlier in 2019, I decided that I ought to follow it up with a light-hearted and fun piece for contrast. Sliders was composed in 17 composition sessions between June 16th and July 12th of 2019.Since the previous trombone ensemble work had also included a solo bass trombone part, along with parts for organ and timpani, I also desired to write a work calling only for a trombone ensemble of eight parts, six for tenor trombones and two for bass. The eight-minute work is cast in three movements, a "DSCH-Rag" (pronounced "dish-rag"), which is based on the D-S-C-H (German notati on for the notes D, E-flat, C, and B natural) employed by Shostakovich in several of his works in an autobiographical sense. Other composers have also used the same motive, the most extended work known to me being Ronald Stevenson's Passacaglia on D-S-C-H. This work, running to 80 minutes, may be the longest single-movement piano work, but my Shostakovich tribute is a much more modest three minutes in duration, and the DSCH motive is incorporated in both of its main themes. Note that, while it is a tribute to the great Russian composer, the pieceis not in his style, but rather more-or-less cast in the classic ragtime style of Joplin and others. The slow movement is entitled "Sticky Slide Blues," a lament by the trombonist whose slide oil is giving out making the movement of the slide difficult (as a trombonist in my youth, this was a recurring problem for me). I've tried to represent this problem musically through the use of interrupted glissandos. A middle section features the entire ensemble in a chorale-like section employing bluesy harmonies. The two-minute final movement is named "Galop, 'Crème de Lenthe'," an obvious play on the crème de menthe liqueur and the surname of the dedicatee. However, there is more to the pun involved here, as the “crème” can be considered to be some of the best trombone students to be found in the Jacobs School of Music, or even taken in the sense of “creaming” as getting the best of someone! The piece is spiky and perky, with a dissonance level racheted up several notches from that of the first two movements. The movement also features a series of duets between two players in rotating fashion. These duets spin out their lines in parallel motion each of which employs in no particular order a different interval of the chromatic scale. Occasional divagations into overt tonality are also heard, but the movement's key signature of B-flat major is, to say the least, a stretch in this very freely tonal movement.

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