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Kinetic Dance

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David Clay Mettens

David Clay Mettens

Subtitle: For Two Scrap Metal Birds

General Info

Year: 2014
Duration: c. 6:05
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: David Clay Mettens
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat 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-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Brake Drum, high and low
  • Glockenspiel
  • Guiro
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal, large
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-Tom, medium
  • Triangle, high and low
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The inspiration for this piece came from my first visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in March 2014. I walked into the church and was amazed to find two enormous metal birds suspended in the nave. They were an installation called “Phoenix” by the Chinese artist Xu Bing. The hundred-foot-long birds were assembled from scraps and rubble scavenged from construction sites in Beijing. “Phoenix” was first displayed in Beijing and Shanghai in 2010 and traveled to the United States in 2012.

I was particularly struck by the contrast between the regularity and heaviness of the church’s pillars and the floating birds. Despite their immense combined weight of twelve tons, the two birds managed to “fly”. My Kinetic Dance is a response to this juxtaposition and an exploration of the unique sound world that the installation suggested: industrial metallic clinking enters into dialogue with the tolling of bells and organ-like timbres. The piece opens with an alternation between heavy bell sounds and punctuating chords played by the entire ensemble. Rhythmic pulsation and melodic strands gradually emerge, and the weight of the bells and punctuations begins to dissolve as forward momentum accumulates. After a final moment of heaviness, the weight and timbre of the opening bells and clanging metal is completely transformed. Quiet bells ring out, like tiny points of light suspended in darkness, and the energy of the piece gathers into an ecstatic dance.

The title is a reference to the sixth movement from Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps: “Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes” (Dance of fury, for the seven trumpets). The rhythm from the opening two bars of this movement is the basis for the repeating rhythmic pattern in the final third of my piece. Like the installation at the Cathedral, Messiaen’s music is a unique synthesis of Western religion and Eastern mythology.

Kinetic Dance for two scrap metal birds was commissioned by Adam Kehl and the Elon University Wind Ensemble (once the Elon “Fighting Christians” and now the Elon “Phoenix”).

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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