There are no words

From Wind Repertory Project
James Stephenson

James Stephenson

The title is intentionally written in lower case: there are no words

General Info

Year: 2016
Duration: c. 14:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Mixed chamber ensemble
Publisher: Stephenson Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $300.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat 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-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbal (2 pairs)
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Tubular Bells (2 racks; optional 9 racks, positioned around the audience)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This work is dedicated to the victims of the June 17, 2015, Charleston, South Carolina, mass shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

- Program Note by composer

Dedicated to Clementa, Sharonda, Myra, Tywanza, Ethel, Cynthia, Daniel, DePayne, and Susie.

- Program Note from score

there are no words was composed as a response to the tragic mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, and is dedicated to Clementa, Cynthia, Tywanza, Ethel, Sharonda, Daniel, Myra, Susie, and DePayne. The work received its premiere at the Mother Emanuel AME 9 Benefit Concert produced by Chamber Music Charleston on Friday, August 7, 2015, at Sottile Theatre (Charleston, S.C). Originally scored for mixed chamber ensemble, the premiere was performed by a gathering of musicians from Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama and Chicago under the direction of Nathan Tucker. The version for concert band was commissioned by a consortium of ensembles and led by Scott Weiss, the Palmetto Concert Band and the University of South Carolina.

Cast in a single movement, there are no words moves through the stages of grief and shock that accompany events such as this. It begins with the terrible action itself, and immediately the number nine (symbolizing the nine victims) is prevalent. There are nine opening chords, using nine notes, which get removed one by one. This opening section is followed by music symbolizing shock and confusion. Here, the nine notes are spelled out as ascending perfect fifths in piano, vibes, and clarinets, and the pattern is repeated nine times.

The ensuing section begins with a mournful euphonium solo and represents the terrible sadness of it all. This section is followed by music of a more angry character. Eventually, however, the anger subsides and gives way to a final section symbolizing the unqualified and total forgiveness that the families of the victims demonstrated in the aftermath of the tragedy. Here a melody constructed from the rhythm of the names of the victims is heard nine times in succession, and nine individual chime stations are stationed around the hall to give each victim individual recognition. Almost from the very beginning, Amazing Grace, which had figured so prominently in so many of the memorial services, is alluded to, and it eventually bursts through to bring the work to a final resolution.

- Program Note from Palmetto Concert Band concert program, 15 December 2016

I tried to represent (my understanding of/feelings about) stages of grief/shock that must accompany this type of event.

• The terrible action itself — the opening nine chords
• Shock and confusion and trying to come to grips with the reality that just happened
• Terrible sadness
• Anger and a bit of pacing/not knowing what to do next
• The beginnings of forgiveness; with one last anger-moment
• Forgiveness

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Scott A. Jones, conductor) – 6 October 2019
  • University of South Florida (Tampa) Wind Ensemble (Lauren Gates, conductor) – 23 April 2019
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Michael Roeder, conductor) – 17 April 2019
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) – 3 April 2019
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 2 December 2018
  • Washburn College (Topeka, Ks.) Wind Ensemble (Robert Schwartz, conductor) - 30 April 2018
  • Cleveland State University (Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) – 22 February 2018
  • Saratoga (Calif.) High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Jason Shiuan, conductor) – 20 July 2017 - WASBE Conference (Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (David T. Kehler, conductor) – 9 March 2017
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Ozzello, conductor) – 4 February 2017
  • Palmetto Concert Band (Columbia, S.C.) (Scott Weiss, conductor) - 15 December 2016 (2016 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Arizona (Tucson) Wind Ensemble (Chad Nicholson, conductor) – 22 September 2016
  • University of Delaware (Newark) Wind Ensemble (Chad Nicholson, conductor) – 10 March 2016 (CBDNA 2016 Eastern Division Conference, New London, Conn.)
  • Palmetto Concert Band (Columbia, S.C.) (Scott Weiss, conductor) – 20 February 2016 (CBDNA 2016 Southern Division Conference, Charleston, S.C.) – *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works