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Etudes for Wind Ensemble

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Michael Mikulka

Michael Mikulka


General Info

Year: 2019
Duration: c. 13:00
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Michael Mikulka
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $300.00; (digital) - $100.00


Movements

Etude 1, "The UIL"
Etude 2, "Sounds Easy"
Etude 3, "Pass Around"
Etude 4, "Slacken Slightly"
Etude 5, "Windows"


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium
Tuba
Timpani
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Brake Drum
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Guiro
  • Marimba
  • Slapstick
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Toms
  • Triangles (2)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Etudes for Wind Ensemble consists of five short etudes.

Etude 1, "The UIL" references the Texas University Interscholastic League. Critics of the UIL say that the heavy emphasis on competition leads bands to "teach to the test", to associate music with technique and performance rather than expression, and to choose flashy compositions that sound difficult but rely on extremes in surface level elements such as dynamics, tempos, and registers. The UIL is flashy, fast, loud, virtuosic, and is loaded with mixed meter, 4-against-3 rhythms, and a nod to one of the most skilled and successful composers at writing Texas band contest music. This etude will get your band straight 1s/sweepstakes.

Etude 2 "Sounds Easy," particularly when directly following The UIL. However, it is loaded with orchestration nightmares: notes that tend to be sharp on one instrument are paired with notes that tend to be flat on another. Brass players have to start in their extreme high register and oboes have to start in their extreme low register. There are awkward fingering combinations, fast mute changes, quick timpani pedaling, uncomfortable syncopations, rhythms that are slightly different from each other, an "impossible" trombone glissando, and terrifying pitched percussion tutti entrances. It begins by quoting the unaccompanied horn solo at the beginning of Vincent Persichetti's Pageant, which rarely sounds good despite being thre "simple" notes. Basically, the entire etude is deceptively inconvenient.

Etude 3, "Pass Around" begins with a saxophone quartet playing an angular and syncopated melody. That melody passes through a series of variations and is gradually broken into smaller and smaller pieces as it gets passed around the band. By the end of the etude, each instrument only plays one note at a time, with the composite melody forming a strange pointillistic patchwork.

Etude 4, "Slacken Slightly" is set in a perpetual poco ritardando. The etude starts out at [a tempo of quarter notes = 128] q=128, and as the pulse gradually slows down, the effect is offset by the composite rhythm, harmonic rhythm, and beat subdivisions, which gradually speed up. At the end of the etude, the original material returns, this time starting at q=64 and notated twice as fast.

Etude 5, "Windows" has a relentlessly driving pulse led by a snare drum ostinato. The majority of the band punctuates each measure with an aggressive eighth note stinger: in the windows between each of these downbeats, a different small group of instruments has to pop out of the texture and blend with each other on the fly. After a comparably sparse solo section, the windows return, filled with a rollicking melody that gets harmonized with what is colloquially known as "pirate modality". The etude ends big with a rapid unison rhythm, an ascending 16th-note run that spans over five octaves, and a callback to the ending of the first etude.

- Program Note by composer


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Works for Winds by this Composer


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