Please DONATE to help with maintenance and upkeep of the Wind Repertory Project!

Perpetual Notion

From Wind Repertory Project
Jump to navigation Jump to search
James Stephenson

James Stephenson

Subtitle: For Solo Percussion and Wind Ensemble

General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 7:50
Difficulty: VI (solo); V (ensemble) (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Stephenson Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $200.00   |   Score Only (print) - $40.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes (/pərˈpeCH(o͞o)əl/) - adjective

2. occurring repeatedly; so frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted.

no.tion (/ˈnōSH(ə)n/) - noun

2. an impulse or desire, especially one of a whimsical kind.

Perpetual Notion grew out of a correspondence with Tom Seddon (Washburn University), where he asked the (dangerous) question: "Jim, do you have anything that features a solo percussionist?" My immediate answer was no, but with the help of Tom, and many generous directors and institutions, the result is now on the following pages.

The "perpetual" part of this piece is somewhat obvious: there is usually a constant stream of 16th or 8th notes, whether in the solo or accompaniment parts. The "notion" is a little more obscure. I've always wanted to write music that had 12-tone hints, but existed in a more "accessible" format. I once heard a clip somewhere of someone suggesting that 12-tone music could be more successful (in a popular way), if it was presented in a more rhythmically approachable style. In other words, one might try to contrast one complex aspect with another less complex technique. Given its propensity toward rhythmic devices, I surmised that a percussion feature could be the vehicle for such a piece.

I should state right away: this is not a 12-tone piece. It merely has notions of one. There are several measures where all 12 notes are used without any repetition. The melody in measure 23 becomes an oft-used statement in the piece, but is presented in a rhythmically attractive and "groovy" way, so as to hopefully achieve the balance mentioned earlier.

Those looking for other "tricks" in this piece might note that the alto saxophone countermelody in measure 130 is the inversion of what becomes major melodic material starting in the solo marimba in measure 162. Or that the bass line is often a 12-tone subset as well. And so on...

My sincere thanks also goes out to soloist Von Hansen, who was willing to workshop this with me to come up with other options for what the solo part could include, and what it couldn't. Or shouldn't! Collaboration with people like Tom and Von is what makes being a composer so enjoyable, and so I thank them for their generous time and spirit.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works