You will be taken with the simple pentatonic beauty of this Chinese folk song. Quiet and mysterious, the opening of Radiant Moonbeams features gentle harmonic clusters that introduce the first phrases of the melody. After subtle transitions and climax, the work quietly closes with solo flute and bells.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 3 | Duration: 5:20
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2/3
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Bb Trumpet 1
Bb Trumpet 2/3
F Horn 1/2
3 Timpani (3 drums)
Percussion 1 (Bells)
Percussion 2 (Vibraphone)
Percussion 3 (Marimba, Chimes, Suspended Cymbal)
Radiant Moonbeams was commissioned by Durham Middle School Bands, Lewisville, Texas, in memory of Christy Hoong, a friend and flute player in the band. Considering Christy's Chinese heritage, I chose an old Chinese folk song, Shao Hua Tang Shue ("Gently Flowing Stream") to be used as the basis for the melodic material in the work.
I was struck by this love song's simple pentatonic beauty and I couldn't help but think that the words could easily transfer to the thoughts of how the band members now visualize their friend, Christy Hoong, in the "moonlight of the heavens," so to speak.
The work begins with a quiet and mysterious introduction based on harmonic clusters comprised of the first four notes of the folk song. Following, the solo flute “sings” the first two phrases of the melody of the folk song ("Radiant moonbeams brighten the heavens tonight, I dream of my sweetheart in the moonlight.") in pentatonic G-minor accompanied by flowing lines in the flutes, clarinets, bells and vibraphone. Solo trumpet states the middle section of the song ("I see her clear image in the moon's path. Sweetheart dear, dear,") and flutes play the final phrase ("tiny stream flows gently in the forest glen."). A developmental episode ensues which utilizes material from the folk song. A transition leads to a flowing melody in pentatonic F major that is a sort of metamorphosis of the folk song melody. The melody is intended to represent Christy's cross over into the afterlife. There is then a return to the folk song in D minor which rises to a climax, subsides, and is followed by the tolling of bells, a final phrase by the solo flute and three final bell tolls in D Major.
- David R. Gillingham