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When the Great Owl Sings

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Carlton L. Winston

Carlton L Winston

Subtitle: An Offering to Ah Puch

General Info

Year: 2009
Duration: c. 5:50
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Devmusic Company
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


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 Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Conga
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Rainstick
  • Shakers
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-tam
  • Tom-toms (2)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In Maya mythology, Ah Puch was the god of death and the King of Mitnal, the Underworld that was the worst of the nine levels of Hell. Ah Puch was feared by the Maya people, and he still is to this very day. It is believed that the screech of an owl signifies imminent death. The following saying, in local Spanish, indicates: Cuando el tecolote canta⁄ el indio muere (When the great owl sings, the Indian dies).

This work is an offering to this malevolent god. When the Great Owl Sings begins with an ominous theme depicting the foreboding environment of Mitnal. We are then introduced to Ah Puch as a corpse adorned with bells. Soon, the cries of the Maya people are heard, but they are not loud enough to drive Ah Puch back to Mitnal. This gives way to the malevolent nature of Ah Puch as he prowls the houses of the Maya people, searching for those who are sick and/or injured. The following lyrical section represents the overwhelming grief and sorrow expressed by the Maya people as they try to figure out how to make Ah Puch return to Mitnal. As the grieving seizes, we begin to hear distant trembles and the preparation for an offering to Ah Puch. Violently, the ritual begins as the Maya people offer one of their own as a sacrifice to Ah Puch. The final measures of the piece represent Ah Puch accepting the sacrifice and returning to Mitnal.

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

  • Mississippi: IV-A


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