Windrider is a celebration of life on the Llano Estacado. All of the motivic material is inspired by the contour of the land and the life in the wind of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. The piece utilizes the ABA (fast-slow-fast) form that is common in a number of band works.
From the opening measures, one octatonic pitch collection is presented as both harmonic and melodic elements. Indeed, the first third of the piece utilizes only the 8 notes found in the collection, without deviation. The contour of the Llano Estacado is encoded in the chords and harmony throughout this section. Using GPS precise elevations were recorded on the route from Portales, NM to Lubbock, TX notable to the composer as a place of birth and present residence, respectively. These GPS elevations were then interpreted as collection of hills, valleys, slopes and plains. These four distinct shapes were realized at the piano as triads with hills having white notes on either side and a black in the middle, the converse for valleys, plains consisting of three black or white notes, and slopes either triad beginning on the note b. The chords were then filtered by the application of the single octatonic pitch collection and presented in strict order in the direction of the blowing wind, so characteristic to the area.
The wind is further suggested through the juxtaposition of groups of notes that accelerate and decelerate. This element is applied to harmonic rhythm, literal rhythm, dynamics, form, and melodic content throughout the piece. In addition a ‘whirlwind’ motive is realized as arpeggiations played by groups of woodwinds at varying tempi.
The aggressive opening section eventually dies away as the lyric middle section enters. This section is representative of the arroyos found on the edge of the Llano Estacado, as such only ‘valley chords’ are used here. These chords are colored by added chords that are a sixth away. The result are chords with deep colors that are contrasted by the simple melody that rests upon them.
The reemergence of the octatonic tones hints at a formal return after the somber, reflective middle part of the piece. The quickening movement between the tonal area of F and B the reemergence of the A section heightens the suspense before the return. The recapitulation contrasts the beginning of the piece in that this time both melodic ideas are presented simultaneously as the trumpet and xylophone share a unison staccato passage that help ratchet up the tension in preparation for the final statement of the main theme. After the main theme, the tonal area shifts to reflect the chords from the middle of the piece and the slow theme is heard once again, this time over quick articulation of the brass. As the movement of the chords and melodic material rise, exhilaration reflective of the experience of the feeling of the brisk wind on the high plains is achieved. The coda follows and brings the piece to its conclusion, reinforcing the thematic and motivic material from all that has transpired.
The Windrider score may be downloaded at-
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