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Short Ride in a Fast Machine (tr Odom)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Adams

John Adams (trans. Odom)

General Info

Year: 1986 (composed) / 1995 (arranged)
Duration: c. 4:10
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $115.00   |   Score Only - $15.50


Full Score
Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Eb Soprano Clarinet
A Soprano Clarinet I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra-Alto Clarinet
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Cornet (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium I-II
Cello (optional)
String Bass
Synthesizer I-II
Percussion (4 players) I-II-III, including:

  • Snare Drum
  • Large Bass Drum
  • Bass Drum with foot pedal
  • Cymbal (large sizzle and suspended)
  • Tam-Tam (large)
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Woodblock (low, medium, and high)
  • Crotales
  • Xylophone
  • Glockenspiel


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Commissioned by the Great Woods Festival to celebrate its inaugural concert at Great Woods, Mansfield, Massachusetts, and first performed June 13, 1986, by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

- Program Note from the orchestral full score

Short Ride in a Fast Machine is a joyfully exuberant piece, brilliantly scored for a large orchestra. The steady marking of a beat is typical of Adams’s music. Short Ride begins with a marking of quarter-notes (woodblock, soon joined by the four trumpets) and eighths (clarinets and synthesizers); the woodblock is fortissimo and the other instruments play forte. Adams sees the rest of the orchestra as running the gauntlet through that rhythmic tunnel. About the title: “You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn’t?”

Short Ride in a Fast Machine features the usual minimalist earmarks: repetition, steady beat, and, perhaps most crucially, a harmonic language with an emphasis on consonance unlike anything in Western art music in the last five hundred years. Adams is not a simple — or simple-minded -- artist. His concern has been to invent music at once familiar and subtle. For all of their minimalist features, works such as Harmonium, Harmonielhere, and El Dorado are full of surprises, always enchanting in the glow and gleam of their sonority and bursting with the energy generated by their harmonic movement

- Program note by Michael Steinberg

Short Ride in a Fast Machine opens with a burst of barely contained exuberance: an insistent woodblock pounding out continuous quarter notes amid a whirling torrent of sound. The second of two fanfares (the other being Tromba Lontan or Distant Trumpet) composed in 1986, Short Ride in a Fast Machine has quickly become one of Adams’ most oft-performed works. A brilliant example of musical minimalism, the piece draws the audience in with a hypnotic, repetitive rhythm and subtly swerves through a complex series of harmonic shifts and instrumental color variations. A soaring trumpet fanfare in the midst of the mad rush of energy lends the composition a moment of ecstasy before rejoining the full-throttle race to the end.

- Program Note by Andrew Skaggs for the U.S. Navy Band

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Wind Ensemble (Anthony Falcone, conductor) – 22 April 2019
  • United States Military Academy Band (West Point, N.Y.) (Tod Addison, conductor) – 23 February 2019
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Symphony (Benjamin Rochford, conductor) – 26 April 2018
  • Missouri State University (Springfield) Wind Ensemble (John Zastoupil, conductor) – 23 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Southwestern Conference, Houston, Texas)
  • University of Massachusetts (Amherst) Wind Ensemble (Matthew Westgate, conductor) – 4 December 2017
  • Eastman Wind Ensemble (Rochester, N.Y.) (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor) – 1 December 2017
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Ensemble (Paula Holcomb, conductor) – 15 November 2017
  • University of South Alabama (Mobile) Wind Ensemble (William Petersen, conductor) – 27 September 2016
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor) – 29 March 2016
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) – 19 February 2016
  • United States Navy Band (Washington, D.C.) (Brian O. Walden, conductor) - 17 December 2014 (2014 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble (Allan McMurray, conductor) - 3 November 2013
  • United States Navy Band (Brian O. Walden, conductor) - February 2013 West Coast Tour

Works for Winds by this Composer