Book of the Dead
Subtitle: Concerto for Soprano Saxophone, Winds, and Percussion
1. All the evil upon me has been removed
2. Guarding against the loss of heart
3. Protecting against being devoured by servants of Osiris
4. The weighing of the heart
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Solo Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
- Bass Drum
- Crash Cymbals
- Hand Bells
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
None discovered thus far.
The Book of the Dead depicts the path of a soul traveling the Egyptian afterlife. Each movement represents one of the "spells" contained within the ancient Book of the Dead:
- “All the evil upon me has been removed” represents the cleansing power of death.
- “Guarding against the loss of heart” captures the struggle to maintain self-identity amongst the confusion and terror of the afterlife.
- “Protecting against being devoured by servants of Osiris” represents the physical manifestation of terror and struggle.
- “The Weighing of the Heart” is the final judgment. Was the life lived worthy of eternal rest and comfort?
The narrative structure of the piece follows this closely and can be heard as somewhat programmatic: the saxophonist is the lost soul, struggling to overcome the forces that seek to devour, dement and consume.
As a young composer, the idea of being overwhelmed by the constant inundation of sound, and by the pressures of being a profession, is quite terrifying. What does it mean to me? This piece, in a big way, is about that. "Guarding against the loss of heart" is a collection of quotations (there are dozens of quotations in movement two alone – from both the classical and "pop" traditions – see if you can identify them all!) and is representative of this very thing. I imagine myself as the lost soul stepping into the new, terrifying world, being pulled at in each direction by forces (in this case, musical quotations), trying to sway me from my path. The aggregate is chaotic, confusing, quirky, disturbing. It is hard to keep focus and direction.
Moonlight Sonata continually returns across all four movement at moments of repose. It serves to unify the entire composition, while also giving the soloist a place of solace and rest. One of my earliest musical memories is of this piece. To me it is music and emotion at a very fundamental level and still is a place of comfort and stability in my life.
- Program Note by composer
- Book of the Dead has been recommended as interesting, serious and distinctive music by members of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE).
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- San Francisco Wind Ensemble (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor; Paul Nolen, soprano saxophone) – 12 July 2015 - WASBE Conference, San Jose, Calif.
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Book of the Dead (2012)
- Bound (2016)
- Five Toasts for Trombone and Wind Ensemble
- Flutter and Kick (2015)
- The Golden Gray (2009)
- Harvest Moon (2004)
- House Plants in Terracotta Pots (2014)
- in case of emergency (2014)
- Innsmouth, Massachusetts - 1927 (2014)
- little night (rain) music, A (2016)
- Seeking, Seeking (2008)
- the softest breath (2019)
- That Dear Land of Rest (2012)