Melodious Thunk

From Wind Repertory Project
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David Biedenbender

David Biedenbender

General Info

Year: 2012
Duration: c. 4:10
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: David Biedenbender
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
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
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Ride cymbal
  • Slapstick
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibra-slap
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


In Parts:

  • Flute II, m.82: Should play Ab5–Bb5 in same rhythm
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone, m.11: Should play Bb4–C4, not C4–Bb4 (transposed)
  • B-flat Trumpet III, m.33, beat 4: Should be Bb4 (transposed), not D

Program Notes

As the title suggests, Melodious Thunk was inspired by the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. There are no direct quotes from the music of Monk, although a short fragment from Dizzy Gillespie’s tune Salt Peanuts is used. The composer, David Biedenbender, writes:

“I really liked the idea of playing around with Monk’s name, first, because I personally really enjoy goofing around with “spoonerisms” (silly, ridiculous, mix-and-match letter games, which often happen by accident: for example, slip of the tongue becomes tip of the slung), and, second, because this nickname actually provided great musical inspiration. Melodious: well, that’s fairly obvious; and thunk (which is a great onomatopoeia!) became the starting points for the piece. Big, fat thunks are interspersed with pointy, clunky, bluesy blips, which are then transformed into a long, smooth, laid-back melody accompanied by a funky bass line ... I hope you’ll hear some similarities between this piece and Monk’s iconic musical style and quirky attitude.”

- Program Note by McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band concert program, 18 December 2013

I don’t normally like to begin program notes with dictionary definitions -- it feels pretty stuffy to me -- but it seemed appropriate for this piece, so here goes...

thunk [thuhngk] noun & verb

1. [n.] an abrupt, flat, hollow sound (example: The book landed on the floor with a thunk.); synonym: thud
2. [v.] to produce an abrupt, flat, hollow sound
3. [v.] colloquial past tense and past participle of think.

Melodious Thunk was inspired by the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Monk’s wife, Nellie Smith, nicknamed him “Melodious Thunk” because of his clunky, awkward, and brilliant(!) piano playing, and his somewhat scatterbrained and disoriented nature.

Melodious Thunk was commissioned by a consortium of bands organized by Ryan Shaw and the Cedar Springs High School Symphonic Band, including:

Birmingham Seaholm High School (MI) — Timothy Cibor
Bloomfield Hills Andover High School (MI) — Robert Ambrose
Bloomfield Hills International Academy (MI) — Robert Ash
Cedar Springs High School (MI) — Ryan Shaw
Clarkston High School (MI)— Michael Lewis
Dakota High School (MI) — Risa Hsu
Grand Ledge High School (MI)— Christopher Blackmer
Novi High School (MI) — Mark P. Hourigan
Waterford Kettering High School (MI) — R. Scott Adkins
Wisconsin Lutheran College (WI) — Terry S. Treuden

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • Texas: IV. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Michael Robinson, conductor) - 15 November 2023
  • Sacramento (Calif.) State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Matthew Morse, conductor) - 10 May 2023
  • Stephen F Austin State University (Nacogdoches, Tx.) Wind Symphony - 24 April 2023
  • Justin Garza High School (Fresno, Calif.) Symphonic Band (Kevin Tinkle, conductor) - 24 March 2023 (2023 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Symphony Band (T.j. Anderson, conductor) - 15 February 2023
  • Purdue University Fort Wayne (Ind.) Symphonic Band (Daniel Tembras, conductor) - 8 December 2022
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Maroon Campus Band (Rose Craig Tyler, conductor) - 24 October 2022
  • National Youth Band of Canada (Toronto, Ont.) (Darrin Oehlerking, conductor) - 13 May 2022
  • Youngstown (Ohio) State University Concert Band (Benjamin Pickard, conductor) - 25 April 2022
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College (Owensboro) (Pat Stuckemeyer, conductor) - 24 February 2022
  • Aledo (Tx.) High School Wind Ensemble (Joey Paul, conductor) – 10 February 2022 (2022 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Walsh Middle School (Round Rock, Tx.) Honor Band (Jennifer Bergeron, conductor) - 17 December 2021 (2021 Midwest Clinic)
  • Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction) Best of the West Honor Band: Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) - 11 December 2021
  • Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) WindFest Honor Band (Joseph Higgins, conductor) - 23 November 2021
  • OMEA District 4 & 7 Viking Band (Birch Browning, conductor) – 13 November 2021 (OMEA All-State Conference 2021, Cleveland State University)
  • University of Dubuque (Iowa) Concert Band (Nolan Hauta, conductor) - 14 and 22 October 2021
  • Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.) Symphony Band (Julia Baumanis, conductor) - 14 October 2021
  • University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) Concert Band (Kyle Aufderhar, conductor) - 5 October 2021
  • Millersville (Penn.) University Concert Band (Christy Banks, conductor) - 10 April 2021
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Wind Symphony (James Batcheller, conductor) - 12 November 2020
  • Arkansas Winds Community Concert Band (Farmington) (Michael Ferguson, conductor) – 29 March 2020

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • David Biedenbender website
  • Harris, Edward C. "Melodious Thunk." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 446-452. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.