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Finish Line

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Cindy McTee

Cindy McTee (trans. by composer)

General Info

Year: 2006
Duration: c. 7:00
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $200.00   |   Score Only (print) - $85.00


Full Score
Flute I -II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra-Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

  • Bass Drum
  • Brake Drum (4)
  • Castanets
  • Chinese Cymbal
  • Cymbal (Large suspended)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (Tam-tam)
  • Guiro
  • Marimba
  • Ratchet
  • Shaker
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Vibraslap
  • Woodblock


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Finish Line was inspired by several paintings of Futurist artist Giacomo Balla, suggesting the transformation of landscape by the passage of a speeding automobile.

Centered in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century, the artistic movement known as Futurism embraced an aesthetic that glorified the speed and power of machines, especially automobiles. The Futurist Manifesto of 1909 by F.T. Marinetti proclaimed that "a racing automobile ... is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace." Is it any wonder, then, that Italy has led the pack in producing finely crafted racing machines noted for their style and grace?

I decided to use the work of Futurist artist Giacomo Balla as a point of departure for the creation of Finish Line, and chose several paintings suggesting the transformation of landscape by the passage of a speeding automobile. The title of one work in particular, Abstract Speed + Sound, suggests that Balla sought to render on canvas the whirling noise of the automobile itself.

In Finish Line, the use of repeated fragments (ostinatos), a steady pulse, and a spirited tempo attempt to portray the swirling gestures and mechanized agitation of Balla’s paintings. Multiple points of view (characteristic of Futurist art) are represented by the simultaneous presentation of two tempos at the beginning and end of the work, and also by a seamless, temporal transformation process analogous to gear shifting, where the speed, or RPM, of the engine modulates smoothly to a new frequency.

There are also three short sections in Finish Line during which forward momentum and time are slowed down and ultimately suspended. This is achieved by inserting varying amounts of silence between the repetitions of melodic fragments which are therefore heard in ever-changing relationships to create a non-linear texture of circles within circles and a dreamlike, hovering, effect.

Italian Futurists were, of course, not the only artists affected by the dawn of the machine age. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky is actually the composer credited with having produced the first important piece of “machine music,” the Rite of Spring, its rhythmic pulsations depicting not just prehistoric, ritualistic dance, but also the nervous energy of a modern, mechanized city. There are references to this famous work at the beginning and end of Finish Line.

Pitch structures in this work are derived from both octatonic (8-note) and 12-note scales, while the note “A” (for Amarillo) launches the piece in a flurry of percussion.

I completed Finish Line by mid-summer of 2005 and then set out on a 6000-mile road trip, often imagining myself racing through Balla’s paintings. Like Balla, I too delighted in the ability of a speeding automobile to transform time and space, with vast expanses of changing landscape playing like a movie on my windshield. Fasten your seatbelts!

Finish Line is a seven-minute work originally commissioned by the Amarillo Symphony Guild in honor of their fiftieth anniversary. It was premièred on March 24, 2006, by the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, James Setapen, Music Director. The wind symphony version was commissioned by a consortium of ensembles and premièred on May 20, 2006, by the University of Washington Wind Symphony, Timothy Salzman, conductor.

- Program Note by Cindy McTee

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Edwin Powell, conductor) – 13 May 2018
  • Alabama Wind Ensemble 2014
  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Edwin Powell, conductor) - 15 March 2012 (CBDNA Conference, Reno)

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • McTee, C. (2006). Finish Line: For Wind Symphony [score]. Rondure Music Publishing: Dallas, Tx.