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Commission Project

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Composer/Conductor David Gillingham will begin composing an original work for January 2009. David Gillingham and will document the progress of the composition as it progress. Through Finale files, video and articles updates, band directors and visitors will have the opportunity to view the creative progress of one of country's most sought after composers. Upon completion Dennis Fisher and the University of North Texas Symphonic Band will premiere the composition live on 

"Century Variations: A Layman's Guide to the Band"

Commissioned by / Composition by David Gillingham

Program Notes
by David Gillingham

Century Variants was commissioned by David Knox of 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 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:

Optional Narration

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.


Entry #1 Video
Welcome to the Project »
A personal "welcome to the project" video by David Gillingham.
Here David talks about the idea and origins of the piece.

Entry #2 Video
Concept »
David describes how the idea of the piece initated and developed.

Entry #3 Audio Clip
Sound Concept »
Listen to an excerpt from New Century Dawn.

Entry #4 Score
Score (Introduction) Finale File »
(view score and listen to file using free Finale Reader download below)

Entry #5 Video
The Process of Composing
In this video David Gillingham comments on his personal thought process of composing.

Entry #6 Video
Introduction (Continued)
Century Variations is a set of variations on a theme of David's from a piece he wrote in 2000, called "New Century Dawn". Each variation will highlight a section or choir from the band. The piece will have optional narration. Therefore, the piece can stand alone as a concert piece, or it can be used as a piece to introduce the band to beginning students...or, it can be used as a piece to introduce the band to the general audience. 

Entry #7 Score
Score (Introduction with Theme) Finale File »
(view score and listen to file using free Finale Reader download below)

Entry #8 Score
Score (Century Variants) Finale File »
(view score and listen to file using free Finale Reader download below)

Variation l which features the percussion instruments and most of variation ll which will be all of the woodwinds.  There is optional narration also included for the theme and first variation.

Variation I

Variation I features the “backbone” on the band, the percussion. The variation begins by featuring the timpani on fragments of the opening notes of the theme. This is followed by the xylophone, vibraphone and chimes playing a variation of the next two phrases. The timpani interrupts with a variation of the final phrase, followed by a variation of the last phrase adding beels, vibraphone, marimba, snare drum and part of the band.

Variation II

Variation II features the woodwind section of the band and is actually two variations, IIa and IIb. Variation IIa begins in D major with motives of the first notes of the theme in the piccolo, flute and clarinets over a steady pulsation of eighths on the closed hi-hat. Flutes and piccolo then begin a “fluttery” ostinato while clarinets play the first 2 phrases of the theme accompanied by the saxophones. The oboe continues with the next phrase against a spirited bass line in the bassoon. Saxophones follow by playing a dance-like version of the next phrase which then modulates into Db major. Clarinets play the last phrase accompanied by saxophones, flutes, piccolo and oboe. Another modulation follows leading to variation IIb. This variation uses the clarinets playing the first two phrases with the flutes and piccolo on trilled notes and with the saxophones on the underlying harmony. Alto saxophones play the next phrase accompanied by a solo flute obligato. The clarinets, flutes and piccolo finish with the last phrase and are interrupted by the brass playing a fanfare-like version of the last phrase. This sets the stage for the next variation(s) which will feature the brass.

Entry #9 Score
Score (Century Variants) Finale File »
(view score and listen to file using free Finale Reader download below)

There are actually six variants (variations) to Century Variants: The theme begins at m. 20; Variation I is at m. 51 and features percussion; Variation II begins at m. 86 starting with flute and piccolo followed by clarinets, then oboe and bassoon and then saxophones; Variation III features all woodwinds together; Variation IV begins the brass variations beginning with horns at m. 167; Variation V features the low brass (trombones, euphonium and tuba) and finally, Variation VI which showcases the trumpets. 

Entry #10 Score Complete
Score (Century Variants) Finale File »
(view score and listen to file using free Finale Reader download below)

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