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Carbon Paper and Nitrogen Ink

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Adam Silverman

Adam Silverman

General Info

Year: 2013
Duration: c. 20:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Adam B. Silverman Music Publications
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $200.00; (digital) - $100.00


1. Spiral threads of vital spirit
2. glowing
3. on the fabric of the human body


Solo Marimba
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III-IV (II-IV doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV (I doubling B-flat Piccolo Trumpet)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals (2: concert and suspended)
  • Crotales (2.0 octaves)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-hat
  • Ride Cymbals (2: high and low)
  • Sizzle Cymbal
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangles (3)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In Michael Pollan’s popular book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the author describes carbon as “supplying life’s quantity, since it is the main structural element in living matter,” and nitrogen as “supplying life’s quality,” since it is the essential ingredient in amino acids, proteins and nucleic acids. I particularly enjoyed his turn of phrase when he wrote “the genetic information that orders and perpetuates life is written in nitrogen ink,” and it also reminded me of some artwork by Hannah Burr, in which faint landscapes are inscribed on fragile leaves of carbon paper.

The titles of the first three movements were extracted and loosely adapted from lines of The Human Genome: Poems On The Book of Life by Gillian K. Ferguson and the third movement’s title, On the fabric of the human body, is the translated name of a landmark text on human anatomy, Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica (1543). This book, a copy of which I inherited from my father, features intricately detailed illustrations of human dissections set in allegorical poses and settings. Together, the movement titles form a small poem.

The music was composed freely, without attempts to “pictorialize” its topic. Instead, it takes as its overall approach the concept of “inscription,” with instrumental layers etching impressions on one another. The solo marimba, in particular, imprints upon the rest by triggering notes of the accompaniment that extend the marimba’s notes through sustaining, echoing, and forming cascading trails.

- Program Note by composer


None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Anthony C. Marinello, conductor; Ben Stiers, marimba) - 2 October 2022
  • University of Minnesota Duluth Wind Ensemble at the MMEA Conference (Mark Whitlock, conductor; Gene Koshinski, marimba) – 16 February 2017
  • South Dakota State University Symphonic Band (Jacob Wallace, conductor, Aaron Ragsdale, marimba) – 10 February 2017
  • Liberty University Wind Symphony (Stephen Kerr, conductor; Tyler Loftin, marimba) – 28 April 2016
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor; Ben Stiers, marimba) – 24 April 2016
  • Troy University Symphony Band (Mark Walker, conductor; T. Adam Blackstock, marimba) – 4 February 2016
  • Colorado State University Wind Symphony (Rebecca Phillips, conductor; Eric Hollenbeck, marimba) – 11 December 2015
  • Rowan University Wind Ensemble at Rowan University (Bruce Yurko, conductor; Matthew Witten, marimba) – 3 May 2015
  • West Chester University Wind Ensemble at West Chester University (Andrew Yozviak, conductor; Phillip O'Banion, marimba) – 7 December 2014
  • University of Central Florida Wind Ensemble at the University of Central Florida (Scott Weiss, conductor; Thad Anderson, marimba) – 6 November 2014
  • Temple University Wind Ensemble at Temple University (Emily Threinen, conductor; Phillip O'Banion, marimba) – 1 May 2014
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Wind Ensemble at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Tony Falcone, conductor; David Hall, marimba) – 4 December 2013
  • University of South Carolina (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Scott Weiss, conductor; Scott Herring, marimba) – 29 October 2013 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer