My Brother's Brain
Subtitle: A Symphony for Winds
1. The Inventions - to my brother's uncompromising craft - 6:35
2. Demonsphere - on my brother's struggle - 7:55
3. The Hymn of Forgiving - to my brother's unwavering empathy - 14:40
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Soprano Saxophone
Eb Alto Saxophone
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Euphonium (Bass Clef) I-II
String Bass I-II
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
- Bass Drum
- Bicycle Bell
- Bongos, high and low
- Carpentry Hammer and nails embedded in a hardwood plank
- Chalkboard Pallet or Roller-Stand (w/Chalk)
- Crash Cymbals
- Egg Shakers (2)
- Goblets, crystal
- Iron Pipe or Slab
- Marimba, bass
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbals, medium and large
- Tam-Tam, large
- Temple Blocks (5)
- Thai (or tuned) Gongs (3)
- Thunder Sheet
- Triangle, small
None discovered thus far.
There is no one person on the planet I resemble more closely in mind, soul, and general human rhythm than my younger brother Alex. This may seem an obvious statement, but our similarities have, over the years, come to resonate with incredible gravity on my whole being. We do not reside in the same area; I am not aware of his day-to-day achievements and failures; his highs and lows are mostly lost to me these days. We keep in touch with a somewhat waning regularity. Growing up (five years his senior), I was a typical older brother, exercising my greater strength and cunning on a kid who would inevitably grow up to eclipse me with his sheer brain power and ultimately forgive my well-aimed indiscretions. I often look back on his mental feats from our younger years and swell with silent pride that this person is my brother, that he is who I resemble in a multitude of likenesses, and that I had the privilege to grow in close parallel with him into our adulthoods.
My Brother’s Brain: A Symphony for Winds is a triptych of sound paintings describing the man as I remember him in our earlier years together.
I. The Inventions—to my brother’s uncompromising craft
The opening movement is a childlike look into the mind of a young inventor who created little tracks on pulleys with fulcrums; who rewired household appliances; a teenager who took entire automobiles apart and reassembled them (sometimes interchangeably between other automobiles); and a young adult who worked with kilns and torches to forge newer, more fuel-efficient engines. In his 20s my brother was, as he remains to this day, the finest automobile mechanic I know.
II. Demonsphere—on my brother’s struggle
Diabolical from beginning to end, this scherzo shares its capricious character with “Scarbo” from Ravel’s three-movement piano work Gaspard de la nuit. That said, the spotlight is on the opening of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1. Quoted verbatim and bloated to monstrous proportions, the Brahms serves as a dark hallucination when the troubled mind finally splits apart (evoked by his opening motive over the pedal C), no longer functioning properly in the real world. More technically demanding than the other two movements combined, Demonsphere is a tour de force for large wind ensemble, asking each of the 55 individual players to bring their sharpest minds and quickest wits to every passage on the page at breakneck speed. This movement explores the mental struggles my brother suffered mostly during his teen years and into his 20s. It was not uncommon to hear descriptions of sporadic demonic hallucinations coupled with apocalyptic foreboding and dread. These episodes experienced by my brother were as real as day, and watching him suffer through them weighed heavily on my heart. To see such ups and downs suffered (sometimes physically) by someone so close in spirit to oneself was almost too much to bear.
III. The Hymn of Forgiving—to my brother’s unwavering empathy
The final movement (the longest of the set) celebrates Alex’s integrity and compassion. It was not easy for him to grow up with an egocentric, success-craving older brother. Sitting backseat through much of our childhood, he needed to grow a thick skin at a very early age. Ever considerate, congenial and giving by nature, my brother arrived in his 30s with a seasoned temperament and charisma to burn. The Hymn of Forgiving is one brother’s offering to the other, in gratitude for his patient, undeniable, and superlative model character.
- Program Note by composer
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Wind Ensemble (Carolyn Barber, conductor) – 5 December 2018
- Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Harland D. Parker, conductor) – 4 December 2018
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 18 March 2017 (CBDNA 2017 National Conference, Kansas City, Mo.)
- University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnochan, conductor; Carter Pann, piano) – 18 April 2016
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) - 13 March 2015
- Michigan State University (Lansing) Wind Symphony (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) - 25 October 2012
Works for Winds by this Composer
- American Child
- At Her Ladyship's Request (2017)
- Concerto Logic
- Double Concerto (2019)
- Four Factories (2006)
- High Songs, The (2015)
- Hold This Boy and Listen (2008)
- Labyrinth (2019)
- My Brother's Brain (2011)
- Richard and Renée (2009)
- Serenade for Winds (2009)
- Slalom (2002/2008)
- Spanish Silhouette, A (2010)
- Three Embraces, The (2013)
- The Wranger (2006/2016)
- Carter Pann website.
- Padua, Ricky H. The Maverick: An Analytical Study Of Carter Pann’s Symphony For Winds: My Brother’s Brain (2011). Diss. University of Georgia. 2014. Web. Accessed 3 January 2017
- Pann, C. . My Bother's Brain: A Symphony for Winds [score]. Theodore Presser Company: King of Prussian, Penn.
- Threinen, Emily. "Symphony for Winds: 'My Brother's Brain'." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 1016-1038. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.