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Downshifting

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Dan Welcher

Dan Welcher


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General Info

Year: 2014
Duration: c. 7:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Dan Welcher


Instrumentation

(Needed, please join the WRP if you can help.)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

One of the joys of life for me is riding my 21-speed bicycle. As a basically non-athletic person who nonetheless likes to stay in shape, I have found that riding my bike provides just the exercise I need. The workout is strenuous, but pleasant - and the infinite variety of scenery I pass keeps me alert and wide awake. When I decided to write a piece for band that was basically entertaining and uplifting, it made perfect sense to call it Downshifting.

With three gears on the front sprocket and seven on the rear, it’s possible to keep one’s legs going at a constant speed (for me, that’s 126 to the quarter note) while the bike itself may be moving very slowly or very quickly. I determined to capitalize on this in writing the music, which manages to keep the same mathematical inner pulse, “shifting” (with a ratchet) as the terrain changes. So Downshifting begins with that steady pulse, on a grid of eighth notes in 2/4 to propel the little vehicle forward.

There’s a joyous little tune in our heads as we begin our ride. As the initial thrill of riding on the flat gives way to monotony, we stay in that pulse for the first minute or so of the ride. Then, as the first hill becomes visible, we shift the bike down: even though the eighths are equal, the pulse feels slower (and we’re now in 6/8 time). Ultimately the compound meter shifts again as the climb begins, and we’re now plodding doggedly up the hill. (The music reflects all of these changes, with subtitles such as “Working harder - Seeing the climb, ahead,” “Steady and committed…the climb begins!”, “Straining against the grade," etc.).

There are two hills, and two long climbs (but in different keys, reflecting the change in scenery). When at last the summit of the second hill is reached (“Flying, Over the Top”), we coast at last down the other side at breakneck speed. The initial joyous melody returns, but now in a spread-out coasting pulse.

At the end of the ride, we slow to a stop - then take one last sprint (shifting five times in the process) in order to end on a biker’s high.

- Program Note by composer


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Texas (Austin) Symphony Band (Scott S. Hanna, conductor) - 5 December 2014 - *Premiere Performance*


Works for Winds by this Composer


References

None discovered thus far.