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Melodious Thunk

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This work has been identified for inclusion in the Small Band Repertoire Initiative. You may find discussion of the work's challenges and merits under the Discussion tab above. You may also contribute your own thoughts and recommendations by joining the WRP.

David Biedenbender

David Biedenbender

General Info

Year: 2012
Duration: c. 4:10
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: David Biedenbender
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Ride cymbal
  • Slapstick
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibra-slap
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

As the title suggests, Melodious Thunk was inspired by the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. There are no direct quotes from the music of Monk, although a short fragment from Dizzy Gillespie’s tune Salt Peanuts is used. The composer, David Biedenbender, writes:

“I really liked the idea of playing around with Monk’s name, first, because I personally really enjoy goofing around with “spoonerisms” (silly, ridiculous, mix-and-match letter games, which often happen by accident: for example, slip of the tongue becomes tip of the slung), and, second, because this nickname actually provided great musical inspiration. Melodious: well, that’s fairly obvious; and thunk (which is a great onomatopoeia!) became the starting points for the piece. Big, fat thunks are interspersed with pointy, clunky, bluesy blips, which are then transformed into a long, smooth, laid-back melody accompanied by a funky bass line ... I hope you’ll hear some similarities between this piece and Monk’s iconic musical style and quirky attitude.”

- Program Note by McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band concert program, 18 December 2013

I don’t normally like to begin program notes with dictionary definitions -- it feels pretty stuffy to me -- but it seemed appropriate for this piece, so here goes...

thunk [thuhngk] noun & verb

1. [n.] an abrupt, flat, hollow sound (example: The book landed on the floor with a thunk.); synonym: thud
2. [v.] to produce an abrupt, flat, hollow sound
3. [v.] colloquial past tense and past participle of think.

Melodious Thunk was inspired by the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Monk’s wife, Nellie Smith, nicknamed him “Melodious Thunk” because of his clunky, awkward, and brilliant(!) piano playing, and his somewhat scatterbrained and disoriented nature.

Melodious Thunk was commissioned by a consortium of bands organized by Ryan Shaw and the Cedar Springs High School Symphonic Band, including:

Birmingham Seaholm High School (MI) — Timothy Cibor
Bloomfield Hills Andover High School (MI) — Robert Ambrose
Bloomfield Hills International Academy (MI) — Robert Ash
Cedar Springs High School (MI) — Ryan Shaw
Clarkston High School (MI)— Michael Lewis
Dakota High School (MI) — Risa Hsu
Grand Ledge High School (MI)— Christopher Blackmer
Novi High School (MI) — Mark P. Hourigan
Waterford Kettering High School (MI) — R. Scott Adkins
Wisconsin Lutheran College (WI) — Terry S. Treuden

- Program Note by composer

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Wind Symphony (James Batcheller, conductor) - 12 November 2020
  • Arkansas Winds Community Concert Band (Farmington) (Michael Ferguson, conductor) – 29 March 2020
  • Central Texas (Waco) Youth Wind Ensemble (David W. Montgomery, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • South Forsyth Middle School (Cumming, Ga.) Symphonic Band (Andrew Poor, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southern Division Conference, Natchitoches, La.)
  • Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Symphonic Band (Nathaniel Dickey, conductor) – 24 November 2019
  • Vassar College and Community Wind Ensemble (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) (James Osborn, conductor) – 10 November 2019
  • Keene (N.H.) State College Concert Band (John T. Hart Jr., conductor) - 21 November 2019
  • Metropolitan Wind Symphony (Lexington, Mass.) (Richard Wyman, conductor) – 27 October 2019
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Symphonic Band (Matthew Arau, conductor) – 25 May 2019
  • Dallas (Tx.) Winds Honor Band (Kathy Johnson, conductor) – 19 May 2019
  • Valley View High School (Germantown, Ohio) Symphonic Band (Michael Burns, conductor) - 14 May 2019
  • Miamisburg High School (Miamisburg, Ohio) Symphonic Band (Ryan Wintersheimer, conductor) - 14 May 2019
  • Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Symphonic Band (Joseph Higgins, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Tuesday/Thursday Concert Band (Archie G. Birkner, IV, conductor) – 24 April 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Longhorn Concert Band (Matthew Sedatole, conductor) – 22 April 2019
  • University of South Alabama (Mobile) Symphony Band (Jason Rinehart, conductor) – 16 April 2019
  • Selma (Calif.) High School Symphonic Band (Alex Lima, conductor) -15 March 2019 (2019 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Cobb Wind Symphony (Marietta, Ga.) (Alfred L. Watkins, conductor) – 10 March 2019
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Symphonic Band (Stephen Lytle, conductor) – 5 March 2019

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • David Biedenbender website
  • Harris, Edward C. "Melodious Thunk." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 446-452. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.