Duration: c. 12:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Murphy Music Press
Cost: Score and Parts - Available April 2024
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
- Bass Drum (concert)
- Crash Cymbals
- Drum Set
- Egg Shaker
- Flexatone (large and small)
- Slide Whistle
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
- Trashy Cymbal Stack (dry)
- Wood Blocks (2)
None discovered thus far.
When I first started writing this piece, there was a trifecta of feline activity in my life: the adoption of a boisterous kitten, a visit to a wild cat conservation centre, and Penrith Panthers, my local team, winning the NRL [National Rugby League] premiership. While visiting the conservation centre, I was amazed to learn that Caracals can jump up to four metres high! Add to that my new obsession with my Novation LaunchPad, and POUNCE was born.
This piece explores and imagines different types of pouncing behaviour in cats and their ability to initiate spontaneous play. The opening sets the scene for stalking and predatory behaviour, staying low and close to the ground and creeping up on potential prey. Musically, this is heard as a series of low instrument solos with a bluesy undertow that rumbles with a faux sense of tension. Yet, this is soon interrupted by spring-loaded pounces that pull the work in a friskier and funkier direction. For anyone that’s ever owned a cat, we all know how their mood can change on a dime: how quickly a savage bite can give way to nap time or bravado turn to fear!
The rhythmic language of the work is defined by what I like to refer to as pounce rhythms -- a syncopated bounce, the saunter of a cat’s hips, a spring in the step, or the confidence of a tail whip. In this way, POUNCE embraces splashes of funk, jazz, honky-tonk, rock, and metal styles. Celebratory soundblocks burst with joy and are intercepted by covert pounce operations, recalling the stalking behaviour from the beginning. Here, the line between brave domestic shorthair and spotted wild cat begins to blur, as they camouflage in and out of the ensemble’s texture, treading the tightrope between frivolity and stealth.
In the middle of POUNCE, a heavier groove emerges, conjuring up the muscular physique of the mighty Penrith Panthers and their namesake. For the uninitiated, Australia’s National Rugby League is arguably our most popular form of football and is considered a brutal contact sport. This rockier soundworld, led by brass, invokes a head-banging energy and visceral sense of clashing bodies across the football field. From here, all three feline threads are at work: the frisky, the wild, and the muscular. Each of these blocks interrupts the next, weaving its way in and out, though ultimately it is play that wins out.
Creatively, this was the first piece I’d written using the LaunchPad as my primary creative tool: as a composer who tends to begin with drum kit and flute improvisations, I found this a new way to experiment with rhythmic cells and pitch patterns. It’s worth noting that the physical configuration of the LaunchPad as 64 small pads allows a type of pouncing motion across the squares, so I often found myself devising lines which required a certain nimbleness and agility that I associate with our feline friends.
- Program Note by composer
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Georgia (Athens) Wind Ensemble (Nicholas Williams) - 16 November 2023
- University of North Florida (Jacksonville) Wind Symphony (Erin Bodnar) - 15 November 2023
- University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Lucas Petersen, conductor) - 11 April 2023 *Premiere Performance*
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Holly Harrison, personal correspondence, June 2023
- Holly Harrison website Accessed 9 April 2023
- Petersen, Lucas. " Pounce: An Original Work for Band by Holly Harrison: A Conductor's Analysis." 2023. University of Kansas. DMA dissertation. Accessed 10 June 2023