CONSIDER THE BIRDS

» for large percussion ensemble | advanced +

When starlings flock together, it is called a murmuration. These murmurations can range from a few hundred birds up to massive oceans of over a million. Like huge billows of smoke being manipulated by the shifting winds these bird’s liquid-like formations will tighten up then open, explode with great speed then suspend as if hovering. It is one of nature’s great collaborations.


Now contrast one of these epic collectives of starlings with the image of a solitary bird, sitting on a wire. Simple, independent and carefree, chirping and tweeting it’s song for anyone who will listen. And yet in an instant it is gone, leaving it’s perch to take part in another choreographed dance in the sky.


CONSIDER THE BIRDS uses musical “murmurations” built around evolving figures in triplet 12/8. The displaced chordal language shifts slowly then suddenly, the melodic lines climbing then diving along the full register of the marimbas. In juxtaposition to these murmurations come moments of slow and serene contemplation. A simple choral underlines conversational “chirping” created by the xylophone and other keyboards. The piece ultimately plays o these two impression, shifting back and forth between the expansive masses and the small and simple.


CONSIDER THE BIRDS is written for large percussion ensemble and was commissioned by the Texas Christian University Percussion Orchestra, Brian West director.


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Parts | Site License: 45

Score: 15