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Unfurl

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Michael Mikulka

Michael Mikulka


General Info

Year: 2019
Duration: c. 6:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Michael Mikulka
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $180.00; (digital) - $70.00


Instrumentation

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

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Unfurl was composed in 2019 and was premiered on February 8, 2020. My original intent was to write a parody of the standard 21st century wind band ballad. These ballads sound pure, delicate, and starkly pretty, but they usually avoid expressing strong personal emotions, leading to a “narrator gazes stoically at the distant sunset” kind of feel.

Band ballads typically begin with a sparse texture, setting up tension for the arrival of the first motive/melody, which patiently unfurls out of the mist. While the melodies or motives in 21st century band music are frequently chromatic and complicated-sounding when the tempo is fast, in ballads composers are permitted (and even expected) to write simplistic-sounding diatonic melodies. There is usually an attempt to convey striking (but docile) beauty. There are often seemingly random measures with an extra beat added (or mixed meter sections), and the harmony features washes of soft dissonance (most commonly a combination of pandiatonic tone clusters and sus chords). While some of the 2nds and 4ths are part of the chord and don't resolve, there are also dramatic suspensions everywhere. At some point, the texture suddenly cuts out to reveal unaccompanied clarinets and/or pitched percussion. There is a climactic section about 2/3 of the way through the piece before it gradually relaxes and fades out, leaving us to feel in awe of the gentle loveliness that we have just passively witnessed.

I ended up getting attached to the melody I wrote, and I felt that it sounded too personal and emotional for a parody, so I scrapped my initial plans and adjusted the piece. However, many of the remnants survived this process, so now Unfurl is sincere and expressive but also packed with band ballad tropes.

- Program Note by composer


Media Links


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Current and Former University of Texas Students (Michael Mikulka, conductor) – 8 February 2020


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources