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Negative Split

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Roshanne Etezady

Roshanne Etezady

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General Info

Year: 2021
Duration: c. 6:05
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The composer offers the following insight into the inspiration for this new composition:

“Swimming might be the closest to flying a human being can get. There is something about your body displacing water in order to propel through space that makes you feel Godtouched. THat makes me understand evolution, that we really must have crawled up from the sea.”

— Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land

In July of 2021, I watched Olympians Katie Ledecky, Emma McKeon, and Tatjana Schoenmaker break world records in swimming. It was remarkable, not only for their incredible feats of athleticism, but also due to the fact that as recently as a century ago, swimming was not considered a suitable activity for women -- it was considered improper at best, and subversive at worst --and yet, today, athletes like these are pushing the bar higher and higher, always striving to exceed their limitations, driven not only by the desire to succeed but also by the sheer joy of moving through space, of propel-ling themselves through water. I can’t help but draw an analogy between competitive swimmers and music performers, who are also driven by competition as well as by joy, and who also strive to exceed their own limitations. In music, too, women have historically been on the periphery.

The title Negative Split refers to the act of swimming the first half of a long-distance race slowly and the second half faster, which also reflects the musical activity of the piece. The soloist opens, alone, perhaps, in the mist before an early-morning swim, and then begins deliberately to forge into water, still dark as the sun comes up. Melodic lines introduced in the opening and heard throughout the piece are built around large ascending intervals that reminded me of long arm strokes cutting through water. As the piece progresses, light glints off the water, the pace gets faster, and adrenaline kicks in to propel the soloist to the finish.

Negative Split was commissioned by the Committee on the Status of Women of the North American Saxophone Alliance in 2021. This committee exists to “promote gender equity in areas related to saxophone, support the professional development of women and gender non-binary members in the North American Saxophone Alliance, and serve as a repository of resources and information about women+ and saxophone.” Though it is common for girls to begin studying the saxophone, they tend to drop out at a higher rate than boys, especially during and shortly after the middle school years.

Negative Split is written for a professional-level saxophone soloist to be performed together with a young band. Performances given within the first two years are exclusive to women and gender diverse soloists. The intent is to provide representation in classrooms of young people with the goal of reducing this drop-out rate.

- Program Note compiled by Daniel Johnson for the University of Michigan Concert Band concert program, 29 September 2021


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer