Colors and Contours

From Wind Repertory Project
Leslie Bassett

Leslie Bassett

General Info

Year: 1984
Duration: c. 9:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C. F. Peters
Cost: Parts: Rental Only    |   Full score $30.50


Full Score
C Flute I-II-III (Flute III doubling Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (Clarinet III doubling Bass Clarinet)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bongos (5)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal (2)
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple blocks (5)
  • Triangle (3)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes (glass and metal)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Colors and Contours was commissioned by the College Band Directors National Association and premiered at the March 1985 national meeting in Boulder, Colorado, by the McNeese State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by David Waybright. Although printed in one movement, the slow rhapsodic opening, linked by a euphonium solo to a contrasting fast section, gives the listener an impression of two movements. An example of colors may be heard in the bright major chord sounds of augmented triads changing with various instrumental tone combinations. The contours are illustrated by the sweeping lines moving up and down, as in the quiet but changing sounds of the opening. The work’s structure is based on a continual process of textural change; the repeated concepts ensure unity.

-Program notes from CBDNA Journal, Win./1985 and Win./1986, Leslie Bassett and Larry Rachleff

Larry Rachleff wrote the most comprehensive analysis of Bassett’s Colors and Contours.

In his single movement composition, Leslie Bassett continually unfolds and reworks his material in a way that is similar to Baroque Fortspinnung in which the musical structure is based on a continual process of textural and gestural change. Bassett’s manipulation and varying developmental treatment of repeated concepts creates separate episodes and insures unity. ...Bassett’s composition does not possess a conventional form, nor does it present distinct thematic material. Clearly, major thirds function as a starting point for the composer’s imagination, yielding augmented triads and whole-tone collections. ...The “Bassett sound” has always depended upon pitch materials and rhythm; however, it is the masterful instrumental scoring that allows the listener to appreciate the wonderful timbres. In this piece, colors are mostly treble based.

According to Sarah McKoin, “The ‘colors’ in Colors and Contours refer to the way the timbre is affected by the manipulation of essentially four augmented triads and how the orchestration choices continually provide new and interesting colors. ...The ‘contours’ of the work refer (in the composer’s own words) to the sweeping lines moving up and down, such as the quiet, opening mountain range of sounds.” Bassett considered himself to be an intuitive rather than a theoretical composer -- a painter with sound.

- Program Note from University of Nebraska concert program, 6 December 2017


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Chapman, Christopher C. (2003). "Leslie Bassett." In: A Composer's Insight, Volume 2. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications. pp. 1–15.
  • Leslie Bassett website
  • Lourens, Alan. "Colors and Contours MBM Times, Issue 6 (2012), 64.
  • Miles, Richard B. 2000. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 3. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 310-315.
  • Rachleff, Larry. (1986, Winter). "Colors and Contours — Leslie Bassett." CBDNA Journal 2(2), 1-7.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 42.