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

Strange Humors (flex)

From Wind Repertory Project
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Mackey

John Mackey

Subtitle: For four-part adaptable ensemble, with djembe

General Info

Year: 1998 / 2006 / 2020
Duration: c. 5:10
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: String quartet and djembe
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $90.00

Instrumentation (Flexible)

Full Score
Part 1

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • E-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • B-flat Soprano Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • Violin

Part 2

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • Violin

Part 3

  • Bassoon
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • F Horn
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Viola

Part 4

  • Bassoon
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Double Bass
  • Cello

Percussion, including:

  • Djembe


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 (for 1998 full wind ensemble edition)

Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many composers sought to aid ensembles by transcribing band pieces for a flexible instrumentation to comply with social distancing guidelines. Mackey rewrote Strange Humors in 2020 for a four-part flexible ensemble, stipulating that the djembe is the only instrument that must be utilized.

- Program Note by JT Womack for the University of Iowa Concert Band concert program, 3 May 2021

Performance Notes

This work is scored for four parts plus djembe. The four parts are roughly soprano/alto/tenor/bass. Parts are provided to allow for the following options. Note that any other instruments not explicitly listed may also used with the player using a part from a like-key instrument (such as a violin playing the flute part, or E-flat treble clef tuba playing the baritone sax part). Also note that while each of the four main parts are "flexible," the djembe part must be played on a djembe.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • California State University, Stanislaus, Wind Ensemble (Stuart Sims, conductor) - 7 December 2021
  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Ron Gerhardstein, conductor) – 15 May 2021
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) Concert Band (J.T. Womack, conductor; Nick Miller, djembe) - 3 May 2021
  • High Point (N.C.) University Wind Ensemble (Brian Meixner, conductor) - 27 April 2021
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Wind Ensemble (Michael Griffith, conductor) - 13 April 2021
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Chamber Winds (Suzanne Charney, conductor) - 2 April 2021
  • Central Washington University (Ellensburg) Wind Ensemble (Paul Bain, conductor) - 11 March 2021
  • South Dakota State University (Brookings) Wind Symphony (Kevin Kessler, conductor) - 12 February 2021
  • University of Dubuque (Iowa) Concert Band (Cassandra Blanchard, conductor) - 24 February 2021
  • University of Texas Arlington Symphonic Winds (unconducted) - 9 December 2020
  • Marshall University (Huntington, W. Va.) Wind Symphony (Adam Dalton, conductor) - 19 November 2020
  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble Saxophone Quartet - 5 October 2020

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works