Primal Dances

From Wind Repertory Project
Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages

General Info

Year: 2018
Duration: c. 6:25
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00; (digital) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


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

  • Bar Chimes
  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Cabasa
  • Chimes
  • China Cymbals
  • Concert Tom
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

While not specifically programmatic, the music is inspired by the raw, primitive nature of its title. Built on a combination of driving, dissonant rhythms and complex harmonies, the piece features modular melodies surrounded by colorful percussion writing. Indicative of evolution, the music begins to develop and become more complex, although it never abandons its primal roots during the process. At times, it feels exploratory. At other moments, it has more of a chaotic, near violent nature.

The transition into the slower, mystical section draws on elements of Stravinsky (referencing elements of both his Rite of Spring and Firebird Suite.) As the slower section unfolds, the listener is lulled by a slow, steady movement of quarter notes under the melody. This builds into a powerful conflict (both harmonically and melodically as bass voices compete with the upper woodwind and brass). The quarter-note pulse returns once again, and eventually moves back into the driving, raw harmonic content of the opening. Familiar melodies begin to surface under new orchestration before moving into a coda section featuring a building woodwind and percussion ostinato. A series of powerful chords emerges under the ostinato, creating harmonic instability. The music becomes more unstable as the chords change duration, while a final ascending statement emerges from horns, saxophones, and euphonium. The ending of the work erupts in a flurry of rhythmic and harmonic intensity before a final unison statement brings the work to a furious conclusion.

- Program Note from Shadow Ridge Middle School Honor Winds concert program, 21 December 2018

Primal in every sense, complex harmonies combine with angular melodies to elicit a visceral and primitive atmosphere. Driven by percussion and a dissonant rhythmic pulse, the music eventually gives way to a slower, mystical section. As its primal nature returns in full force, the work culminates in the punctuated, adrenaline-packed ending.

- Program Note from publisher

Commissioned by the Folly Quarter Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Ellicott City, Maryland, Andrew Spang, conductor.

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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