Ascent of an Ancient Empire

for Young Band

2020, rev. 2021

Grade c. 1.5

Duration: 2.5m

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  • Ascent of an Ancient Empire - Ascent of an Ancient Empire
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PDF Perusal Score

Ascent of an Ancient Empire came right on the heels of my previous piece for young band, Deep Space Voyage. In that piece, I used quartal harmonies in the march section to depict the coldness of space. Here, I wanted to write a follow-up piece that used quartal harmonies much more extensively as an alternative to the abundance of plain vanilla tonal works for young band.

To many of us, quartal harmonies (particularly parallel 4ths and 5ths) sound older and more ancient—and indeed early polyphonic music often considered 3rds to be dissonant compared to the “perfect” fourths and fifths. But perhaps we can also attribute that association to film composers who have often used stark quartal harmonies to evoke a more ancient sentiment. Oddly enough, quartal harmonies can sound fresh, modern, and sophisticated at the same time, which is an interesting paradox.

Like in Deep Space Voyage, I used mental imagery to help inspire the musical ideas and give it a cinematic feel, but the piece isn't programmatic. Instead, I encourage students to create their own imagery and story lines as their own personal reaction to the music.

My hope is that students will find Ascent of an Ancient Empire a fun and exciting piece that ignites their imagination, and inspires them to rise to the challenge of performing it successfully.