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Strange Humors

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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.

John Mackey

John Mackey (transcribed by the composer)

General Info

Year: 2006
Duration: c. 5:10
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: String quartet and djembe
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $200.00   |   Score (Purchase) - $25.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Eb Soprano Clarinet (alternate Bb Clarinet part provided)
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Soprano Saxophone
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III (Bass Trombone preferred for Trombone 3)
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crotales
  • Cymbal (suspended)
  • Djembe
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Strange Humors represents another of Mackey's works (after Redline Tango) that has been transcribed for wind ensemble. The first version of Strange Humors was a student piece for string quartet and djembe that Mackey wrote while pursuing his graduate degree at The Juilliard School. It was later adapted for use by the Parsons Dance Company, with choreography by Robert Battle. Its transcription came at the behest of Richard Floyd on behalf of the American Bandmasters Association. The piece represents a merging of musical cultures -- the modal melodies and syncopated rhythms of middle Eastern music with the percussive accompaniment of African drumming.

At the heart of the work lies the pulse of the djembe, which remains from the original version. The djembe, an hourglass-shaped drum played with bare hands, is a major part of the customs of west African countries such as Mali and Guinea, where djembe ensembles accompany many functional celebrations of society.

The piece opens with a sultry English horn solo, a line laced with Phrygian influence representing the "typical" melodies of the most northeastern parts of the African continent -- most notably Egypt, but also parts of the Arabian peninsula. Later, the saxophones emulate the snaking lines of the English horn. The addition of brass and auxiliary percussion to the original orchestration makes for particular impact during the shout sections of the piece, and the groove of the djembe combined with the quirky rhythms throughout leave an impression that lingers in the listener's mind long after its conclusion.

- Program Note by Jacob Wallace

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

  • Maryland: V
  • Texas: IV
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Gregory Drane, conductor) - 28 April 2021
  • Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Jim Lloyd, conductor) - 16 March 2021
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (F. Mack Wood, conductor) - 26 February 2021
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Symphonic Winds (Travis Almany, conductor) - 29 November 2020
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony Chamber Players (William Talley, conductor) – 4 March 2020
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Concert Band (Matt Thomas, conductor) – 22 February 2020
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Hindsley Symphonic Band (Anthony Messina, conductor) – 6 December 2019
  • Rowan University Windfest Honor Band (Joseph Higgins, conductor; Fabio Oliviera, percussion) – 23 November 2019
  • Georgia State University (Atlanta) Wind Orchestra (Bryant L. Wahl-Perrin, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Concert Band (Ashley Shoup, conductor) – 17 November 2019
  • Caltech-Occidental Wind Orchestra (Pasadena, Calif.) (Glenn Price, conductor) – 9 November 2019
  • The College of New Jersey (Ewing) Concert Band (Eric Laprade, conductor) – 18 October 2019
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.) Symphonic Band (Patrick Dunnigan, conductor) – 7 October 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 7 June 2019
  • Lincoln High School (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Symphonic Band (Dan Carlson, conductor) - 16 April 2019
  • University of Miami (Coral Gables) Frost Symphonic Winds (Steven Moore, conductor) – 14 April 2019
  • Triangle Wind Ensemble (Cary, N.C.) (Evan Feldman, conductor) – 13 April 2019
  • Washington and Lee University (Lexington, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Dobbins, conductor) – 1 April 2019
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Sharon Toulouse, conductor) – 25 March 2019

Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works