California Counterpoint

From Wind Repertory Project
Cindy McTee

Cindy McTee

Subtitle: The Twittering Machine

General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: c. 7:45
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: MMB Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental   |   Score Only - $59.95


Full Score
Flute I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III
Trombone I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Bell Tree
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

California Counterpoint: The Twittering Machine (1993) was adapted for wind ensemble with a commission from the College Band Directors National Association (Western and Northwestern Divisions), and premièred by Tim Salzman conducting the University of Washington Wind Ensemble in Reno, Nevada, March 19, 1994, at the Regional Conference of the CBDNA's Western and Northwestern Divisions.

California Counterpoint: The Twittering Machine was originally written for orchestra (entitled The Twittering Machine) and later adapted for wind ensemble. The title is intended to recognize California conductor Mitch Fennell for having organized the commission to adapt the piece for winds, and is also meant to express my life-long fascination with the work of painter Paul Klee.

Klee's Twittering Machine is both a drawing and a painting of four birds perched on a crank shaft. The drawn images are whimsical, puppet-like, mechanistic, ironic, and playful, reflected by the faster sections of my composition. These are set against a lyrical field of transparent color, represented by the slower sections of my piece. I was especially drawn to the painting's biting humor; imagine what would happen to the birds if the crank shaft were turned! In my piece, I make attempts at humor through the use of repeated structures and denied expectation -- rhythms are displaced, passages are suddenly transposed or textures juxtaposed.

There are elements of danger in Klee's painting: arrows piercing some of the birds, a gaping hole or ditch the birds might fall into, and the presence of an exclamation mark, which is a recurring symbol in Klee's work meant to suggest impending doom. The danger elements in my piece consist of many large silences, or musical holes, which the players risk falling into if they're not attentive.

Most important is my intention that the work, like Klee's Twittering Machine, convey movement -- that it engage the body as well as the mind -- that it "dance"!

- Program notes by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Boston (Mass.) Conservatory Wind Ensemble (Matthew Marsit, conductor) - 21 April 2023
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Wind Ensemble (Carolyn Barber, conductor) – 5 December 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer