Published in July 2023 by AvA Musical Editions
This suite of pieces for a horn ensemble was written at the request of Indrė Kuleševičienė. It can be performed as a small suite or, alternatively, you can choose to play the movements separately. Some movements can be performed with just 4 horns, and naturally, the voices can be doubled to create more impact with percussive effects.
When a teacher gives a masterclass or brings together students of different levels in the same class, they often encounter students of different age groups. So, if you wish to play something with all the students, it will be necessary to include parts that are suitable for the younger ones. Of course, you could choose a very easy piece that everyone can play, but that might be boring for the older students.
Each student has their own pace, but often situations like masterclasses or combining students of different levels in the same class become moments when the student "clicks" and decides to approach practicing an instrument with a different attitude. When I ask a younger student how a masterclass went, they often don't remember what they individually worked on, but they can enthusiastically describe the collective moments. Looking at my own journey, I remember courses I attended over 20 years ago, and I especially recall the moments of collective musical sharing. Music is meant to be shared, so these situations end up being memorable.
The first movement, titled "Rocking," can be performed with 4 horns without percussion, or by adding horns 5 and 6 to include some percussive effects on the mouthpiece, clapping, and tapping with the nails of the right hand on the bell. The percussive effects on the mouthpiece will produce faint sounds when the indicated fingerings are used, and they will be more prominent if a Wagner tuba is used. You should not hit too hard, otherwise the mouthpiece can get stuck. Just make sure that the hand is relaxed and completely seals the mouthpiece. To perform the tremolo in measure 31 more naturally, a double horn will be necessary. However, it can also be performed on an F horn (F0, F2•3) or a B-flat horn (0, 1•3).
Regarding the second movement, titled "Song," here too only four horns can be used, since horns 5 and 6 are only reinforcing some passages highlighted in more intense dynamics.
Next, in "Animal Blues," the movement starts with a tense introduction with dissonant chords, anticipating something dramatic. However, starting from letter A, it reveals itself as just a blues with some surprises from letter B onward. When it comes to improvisation, horn students of all ages tend to hesitate. This is probably because students don't usually experience improvisation during their early training. However, this improvisation has different contours from the usual canons and is related to the title of the movement. Here, students only need to imitate animals with the horn, based on the five provided examples, but they have the possibility to repeat letter B and include other animal sounds. Meanwhile, the others should keep three accompanying parts active, alternating between moments when they imitate the sound of an animal and moments when they accompany their peers. The pitch indications for the passages with half-valve are approximate, and even in the other passages, they are just examples. Surprise me with the animal sounds you can produce on the horn!
Lastly, "Till Eulenspiegel is coming to town" is a playful piece inspired by a well-known theme by Richard Strauss, with a bluesy touch. Just like in the first movement, the pitch of the sounds in the percussive effects on the mouthpiece can be emphasized if a Wagner tuba is used. Some horns parts have passages for finger snaps. Naturally, some people may have difficulty producing that effect, so it can be replaced with clapping, for example. In letter D, it's time to let your imagination run wild and improvise using the notes of the blues scale. Aware that this task can be a herculean challenge for the younger ones, I included some improvised melodic lines that you can choose from, as choosing a different path is the first step towards improvisation.
Above all, as usual in my works, the most important thing is for everyone to have fun, which will be enjoyable for both the audience and the performers, while also enhancing the learning experience.