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Call of the Wild

From Wind Repertory Project
Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages


General Info

Year: 2013
Duration: c. 4:30
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $65.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe
Bassoon
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II
Horn in F
Trombone I-II
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Tuba
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Chimes
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Tom
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Based on the novel of the same name, Call of the Wild is a musical portrayal of the story by American author Jack London. Taking place in the Yukon during the 19th century, the story follows Buck, a domesticated St. Bernard-Scotch Sheep mix, who is taken from his comfortable home life in California and subjected to the brutal life of a sled dog. As he endures harsh treatment from humans, other animals and nature itself, he struggles with his identity and eventually gives in to his natural instincts, which helps him become a natural leader in the wild.

Each section of the piece is titled after a chapter in the novel. The opening section, “Into the Primitive,” serves as an introduction to the entire work and underscores the brutal introduction into primitive law where “might makes right.” The dissonant trills create an immediate feeling of uneasiness, while the bold brass fanfares the distant call of the wild. The aggressive percussion hits represent the clash of civilized and primitive lives. As Buck begins to adjust to his new surroundings, the dissonant trills give way to full fanfares, indicating Buck’s growing resolve to do whatever it takes to stay alive.

The second section, “The Dominant Primordial Beast,” depicts the chapter in which Buck and his rival, Spitz, become increasingly hostile toward each other. Spitz takes every opportunity he has to attack Buck, but their owners prevent the attacks. However, it eventually becomes clear that there will be a final duel between the two dogs. The music of this section evolves in much the same way as the story. The rivalry between Buck and Spitz grows until the final battle between the two. The energy of this passage begins with urgency, yet grows slowly and decidedly. As the two dogs battle for supremacy, the music becomes aggressive and relentless, leading to Buck eventually finishing Spitz off.

“The Toll of Trace and Trail” follows chapter five, in which Buck is sold to two inexperienced men and a spoiled woman. Under their ownership, the dogs begin to starve, with many of them dying. As this happens, Buck’s primitive instincts continue to grow, and the opening fanfare sounds in measure 65, amid growing chaos. As the new owners push Buck to the brink of death, an experienced gold hunter steps in and stops the men from whipping Buck, who refuses to pull the sled over a thin patch of ice. As the gold hunter fights with Buck’s owners, Buck is freed before the rest of the team staggers on and eventually falls through the ice. The brutality of this encounter is depicted at measure 80, where Buck is at the brink of death before he is cut loose by John Thornton, who becomes his new master, as his previous owners, their sled and the dogs fall through the ice. All throughout this section, the fanfare from the opening continues to sound, calling Buck back to the wild.

The music finally reaches resolution at measure 99 — “For the Love of a Man.” Buck develops a strong affection for the man who saved his life. Thornton treats him with respect and kindness, and Buck in turn becomes extremely loyal and protective of his new master. Buck saves Thornton’s life several times and begins to have a conflict between his loyalty to Thornton (domestication) and his identity as a wild animal. This section is marked by heroic melodies and driving rhythms.

The final section (and chapter of the novel), “The Sounding of the Call,” returns to the opening fanfare. This is when Buck hears the call of a wolf and ventures out into the forest, eventually befriending the animal. He continues to struggle with his loyalty to Thornton and his instincts as a wild animal. Eventually, his ties to Thornton are broken when Thornton is attacked and killed by the Yeehat Indians. Buck hears the sounding of the call yet again, and this time joins the wolf pack. He completes his transformation and succumbs to his primitive instincts, Similarly, the music completes its development, returns to the opening call and adds an element of dissonance to the final series of chords as Buck finally answers the call of the wild.

- Program Note by Creekside Middle School Wind Symphony concert program 20 December 2013


Based on the novel by the same name, Call of the Wild is a musical portrayal of the story by American author Jack London. Taking place in the Yukon during the 19th century, the story follows Buck, a domesticated St. Bernard/Scotch Sheep mix who is taken from his comfortable life in California and subjected to the brutal life of a sled dog. As he endures harsh treatment from humans, other animals and nature itself, he struggles with his identity and eventually gives in to his natural instincts, which help him become a natural leader in the wild. Balmages' musical interpretation reflects the dramatic and heartwarming moments of the novel.

- Program Note by publisher


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


References