Works for Winds and Percussion

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ghettoblaster for winds and percussion (2010) - 4'

Commissioned by the Milton High School Senior Class of 2010
Ryan Borger and Mark Kapral, Directors
Level: Medium Advanced


Premiere: January 20, 2011 - University of Georgia JanFest 
University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson Hall 
Milton High School Wind Ensemble
Ryan Borger, Conductor


Program Notes:

I have always been fascinated by the raw talent of musicians that I meet in the most unlikely of performance venues. ghettoblaster is inspired by street musicians that I have encountered all over the world, ranging from bucket drummers in the middle of Chicago, to jazz musicians on a corner in New Orleans, to an accordian player in the middle of a small-town square in Europe. In many of these cases, these musicians have received little or no formal training, but have studied the talents and traditions of their culture and their environment. For some, this music is a life-long passion for their craft. For others, it is a necessity for living.

In ghettoblaster, I try to incorporate many of these ideas of cultural influence, often combining seemingly tribal and visceral rhythmic themes with a modern melodic compliment. I drew the name from the classic over-the-shoulder boom-box that was so popular throughout the 1980s and 90s. There are also obvious relationships between the percussion instruments I have employed (mostly buckets, cymbals, and a trash can), along with numerous subtle quotes of some hip-hop and R&B songs of the past two decades. I also tried to incorporate the feeling of constant forward motion, often leaving the ends of phrases somewhat incomplete before bolting into the next idea. As is common with much of my music, I wanted the end result to be relentless and enegertic, much like the styles and traditions of all of the street musicians that play to be both seen and heard.

ghettoblaster was commissioned by the Milton High School Band Class of 2010 as their Senior Gift. All the students with whom I worked leading up to the announcement at their Spring 2010 concert were great. I am honored to help them give back to a program that means so much to them.

ghettoblaster is dedicated to my entire family. I mean everybody: cousins, aunts, uncles....EVERYBODY. I have one of the funniest, most creative, talented, encouraging, and loving families in the world. The have constantly reminded me that a life without humor is no life at all.