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Internal Combustion

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David Gillingham

David Gillingham


Subtitle: A Celebration of the American Automobile


General Info

Year: 2000
Duration: c. 11:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C. Alan Publications
Cost: Score and Parts - $150.00   |   Score Only - $50.00


Instrumentation

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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Brake Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum Set
  • Marimba
  • Metal Plates
  • Oogah car horn
  • Ratchet
  • Slapstick
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes
  • Xylophone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Although the internal combustion engine was in existence since the early 19th century, its successful use in the United States began around 1900 and thus marked the beginning of one of the most important industrial sagas of the 20th century, that of the American automobile. Adjacent to the invention of this new "horseless carriage" was the advent of early jazz, that of "ragtime" and New Orleans "Dixieland" jazz. Also marking the occasion was General Motors' introduction of the Oldsmobile and the Gus Edwards/Vincent Bryan song, In My Merry Oldsmobile. The conglomeration of these events are the basis for the inspiration behind Internal Combustion.

The work is centered around two main thematic ideas -- motives from In My Merry Oldsmobile and what the composer calls the "Song of Invention", which is related to "Merry Oldsmobile" by the obvious interval of a major sixth. Added to this thematic material is a multitude of references to the mechanistic nature of the internal combustion engine, the automobile and automobile horns (the old time "oogah" and the American luxury car variety using the interval of the third).

The work starts with the anticipation of invention with some obvious allusions to the "Merry Oldsmobile" tune. The introductory material leads to the "Song of Invention," expressively stated by solo alto saxophone. Then, the crank is turned (ratchet) and we're off for a ride! One should easily hear the "putt-putt" of the engine, the whistle of the wind and the steam from the radiator. The automobile gathers speed and begins to cruise along joyously ... hence a dixieland rendition of "Merry Oldsmobile." The frolic is interrupted by gathering speed and further development and refinement of the automobile and its internal combustion engine. Along the way, one will hear more references to "Merry Oldsmobile," car horns (traffic congestion!) and even a "revving" engine. Unfortunately, in America, "speed is the thing," and the music comes to a screeching halt with a crash and jammed car horn segues into a melancholy lament. This section culminates with a simplistic and child-like presentation of "Merry Oldsmobile" in the percussion (bells/vibraphone).

An engine "rev" (trombone flutter tongue) gives way to new and better things on the horizon and perhaps of the "heydays" of the automobile, the 1950s. Within this section can be heard the triplet rhythm of a stereotypical '50s ballad. The '50s give way to the final decades of the 20th century beginning with a reference to modern jazz. The music begins to develop and becomes more sinister in nature, perhaps indicative of the mixed blessing the automobile has bestowed upon us. Finally, however, the music leads to a dramatic presentation of the "Song of Invention." Despite its mixed blessing, the automobile is an invention to be celebrated; it has undisputedly changed the world! The music changes into a moment of reflection with a reprise of the "Song of Invention" by solo alto saxophone giving way to an intense, fast and spirited finale.

- Program Note by composer


Commercial Discography


Audio Links


State Ratings

  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • North Carolina: VI


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


References

  • Gillingham, D. (2000). Internal Combustion: A Celebration of the American Automobile [score]. C. Alan Publications: Greensboro, N.C.