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Pixelated World

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Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages


General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 8:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $100.00   |   Score Only (print) - $9.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass 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-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangle


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Screens. They have become one of the most addictive elements in our society. They have become one of the main ways people communicate with each other -- even when they are in the same room. And yet, they keep people who are in the same room from communicating at all. I cannot recall how many times I have seen: a family out at dinner, with all of them staring at a screen instead of interacting with each other. Honor band and orchestra students who immediately go to their devices on a break instead of interacting with each other. Parents who watch live concerts through a tiny screen, when they could put the phone down and see (and experience) so much more. And how many of us have seen people in the audience who lift their phone up really high to get over people in front of them, and then strain their neck to look up at the phone -- when the performing group is right in front of them and they could see so much more. [emphasis composer's].

So many people live in a pixelated world. They spend so much time experiencing the world through a screen, not realizing they can experience the world just by looking around. I always feel a bit guilty when I am watching my boys in a concert or a play and am not recording it (or if I do record, I set it up so that I do not need to watch through my phone screen). No video will ever be as powerful, as personal, and as magical as the live performance. I cannot imagine missing it (I mean being there, but effectively missing it). We do this at sporting events, concerts, meals, and even at bedtime.

This piece explores the contrasting ideas of experiencing the world through our senses versus exploring it through screens. The opening repetitive pattern in the percussion symbolizes coding, and contrasts with fully orchestrated sections as the world around us tries to get our attention. Very often, we hear a powerful passage immediately followed by a softer, muted type of response -- the depiction of a real life experience followed by that exact same experience, through a screen. The music also attempts to pull the listener in multiple directions at times -- much like screen time does. I often find myself looking up something on my phone for a second, only to realize 10-20 minutes later that I have wandered off on so many tangents that I barely remember why I grabbed my phone in the first place. Ultimately, the pixelated/digital ideas from the opening of the piece begin to merge with the outside world. We are reminded not only how infinitely small the world is through screens, but also how quickly a screen can diminish the world around us.

It is my hope that conductors will use this piece as a vehicle to draw attention to screen addiction, and perhaps challenge their ensembles to engage with each other more socially than digitally.

Pixelated World was commissioned by the White Bear Lake Wind Ensemble in White Bear Lake, Minnesota; Shannon Anderson and Jeremy Rockford, conductors.

-Program note by composer


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by This Composer

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