Based on the primary melody of Gillingham's work, New Century Dawn, Century Variants is designed to be quite versatile. It is a set of variations which can introduce the symphonic band to the layman or to young children contemplating playing a band instrument. For example, the high school band director could play this piece with the added optional narration (see notes) for the local grade school children for the purpose of recruitment. Or, the piece could be used at a concert to introduce the band to parents and people of the community. If choosing not to use the narration, the piece will stand as a concert work to be featured on any high school or university program.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 4 | Duration: 8:00
Clarinet in Bb 1
Clarinet in Bb 2
Clarinet in Bb 3
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Trumpet in Bb 1
Trumpet in Bb 2
Trumpet in Bb 3
Horn in F 1/2
Horn in F 3/4
Percussion 1 (bells, xylophone, snare drum)
Percussion 2 (vibraphone, xylophone, suspended cymbal, large bass drum)
Percussion 3 (chimes, 4.3-octave marimba, bells, crash cymbals)
Percussion 4 (tam-tam, suspended cymbal, crash cymbals, hi-hat)
Percussion 5 (small bass drum, 3 concert toms, snare drum, temple blocks, tam-tam)
Century Variants was commissioned by David Knox of banddirector.com. The project was very unique in that band directors and musicians could have sneak peaks of the composition as it developed via this website. Actual Finale notation files and videos explaining the composition as it developed.
The composition is dedicated to Dr. Peter Boonshaft, Director of Bands at Hofstra University, for it was Peter who urged me to write a set of variations based on the primary melody of my work, New Century Dawn, written in 2000. The composition is designed to be quite versatile, in that it is a set of variations which can introduce the symphonic band to the layman or to young children contemplating playing a band instrument. For example, the high school band director could play this piece with the added optional narration (see below) for the local grade school children for the purpose of recruitment. Or, the piece could be used at a concert to introduce the band to parents and people of the community. If choosing not to use the narration, the piece will stand as a concert work to be featured on any high school or university program. The details of the structure of the piece are revealed in the Optional Narration below:
Measure 14: Welcome to the world of the Symphonic Band, a large ensemble comprised of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. To help you hear the various components and colors of this ensemble, you are going to hear a theme followed by six variations. First, we will hear the theme played by the combined forces of the entire ensemble.
Measure 40: Variation I features the backbone of the band, the percussion section. The percussion section features plethora of pitched and indefinite pitched instruments that are used to support the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic parameters of the music as well as provide their own color. In order of appearance, we will hear the timpani, xylophone, vibraphone, tubular bells, orchestra bells, marimba, snare drum and hi-hat
Measure 69: Variations II and III feature the versatile woodwinds comprised of piccolo, flutes, oboes, bassoons, Bb Clarinets, Bass Clarinet and the saxophones. Variation II begins with the fluttery piccolo and flutes over all clarinets playing the theme, followed by a variants by the oboes and bassoons, then saxophones and culminating with all woodwinds. Variation III is another variant beginning with all woodwinds followed by flutes accompanying the saxophones and again ending with all woodwinds.
Measure 159: In true form, the brass have interrupted the end of Variation III, announcing the coming of Variations IV, V, and VI that showcase the brass section. Variation IV has the distinction of having the slowest tempo of the entire composition and features the warm and lyrical quality of the horn section. This is followed by Variation V which quickly changes to a faster tempo and touts the dramatic and aggressive sound of the low brass comprised of trombones, euphoniums and tubas. Topping off the brass section are the trumpets that play joyfully and fanfare-like in Variation VI. The variation ends with a full band rendition.
Measure 242: In conclusion, all sections will be recapped in a sort of parade of instruments. Over a continuous ostinato by the hi-hat we will hear timpani, temple blocks, tubular bells, orchestra bells, vibraphone, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones, flutes, piccolo, horns, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, and trumpets, all leading to a grand finale.