Remember the Molecules
Remember The Molecules borrows its title and much of its musical imagery from Norman Maclean’s novella, A River Runs Through It—a book that continues to move me in new ways each time I read it. If you’re not familiar with the story or the 1992 movie adaptation directed by Robert Redford starring a young Brad Pitt, the scene is this: Montana fly-fishing country, deep in a canyon next to one of the strongest rivers in Montana, the Big Blackfoot River.
The piece is probably my most organic composition for wind band. I say “organic” because the piece is “through-composed,” which generally means that it was written without any traditional form or musical structure. The piece also doesn’t really have a traditional melody. So what ends up taking the spotlight are the smaller musical ideas. These little motifs, energized with rhythm, combine and entangle themselves, “one rhythm superimposed upon another” to form a larger musical architecture.
Like many great works of art, Maclean’s novella is about more than just fly fishing. As a semi-autobiographical narrative, Maclean’s own family and his personal relationships with them are woven into the book’s subtext. At the heart of the music sprouts a single motivic seed composed of three notes, Ab-Bb-G. When sounded, these pitches imply two significant intervals that appear throughout the piece: a Major second (Ab-Bb) and a Major seventh (Ab-G). These two intervals are both the closest and one of the furthest removed within a diatonic octave. This juxtaposition of neighboring pitches and distant ones suggests a kind of intervallic duality, which is intended to echo an ever-present theme throughout Maclean’s story, that “it is those we live with and love and should know who elude us” (104).
Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia
David Thomas Kehler
Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Pacific Union University, Angwin, California
University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
John Cody Birdwell
University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia
Markowski Creative (ASCAP)
Winds: Piccolo, Flute 1-4, Oboe, Bassoon 1 & 2, Contrabassoon, E-flat Clarinet, B-flat Clarinet 1-4, B-flat Bass Clarinet 1 & 2, B-flat Contrabass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone 1 & 2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Brass: B-flat Trumpet 1-4, Horn 1-4, Trombone 1-3, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba
Strings: String Bass, Harp
Percussion: Timpani; P1) Glockenspiel; P2) Vibraphone, Trash Cymbal; P3) Marimba, China Cymbal; P4) Chimes; P5) Handbells, Slapstick, Triangle, Ride Cymbal, Tam-Tam (shared); P6) Handbells, Bass Drum, Tam-tam (shared), Ride Cymbal; P7) Kick Drum, Three Concert Toms, Snare Drum, Splash Cymbal, Suspended Cymbal, Sizzle Cymbal
The most accurate version of the score and parts is dated March 27, 2014. For earlier versions, please correct the following errata:
Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone; mm. 16 – 18, slur 16th notes in groups of 6, accenting the first note as currently notated.
Flutes, Eb Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone; mm. 19 – 20, similar to the saxophones in mm. 16 – 18. Slur this similar pattern of 6.
Score and parts have been rebeamed throughout the piece for better ease of reading.