New tune

There’s no title yet — AEJ is working on that — but the new piece is essentially done. This is the piece that was due on March 1. I first pushed it to April 1, and then, once mid-March hit, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write anything good in time, so I delayed it until fall. (One of AEJ’s title suggestions was simply “Late.”) I don’t think I’ve ever had this much difficulty writing a piece. You’ll notice that I almost never mentioned the piece here on the blog because the process was so slow and labored.

The first draft is done, as of last night, meaning there’s something happening — a close approximation of the final product — for the entire seven minutes. I think it’s pretty good. I kind of have the “this is the best thing I’ve ever done” feeling, but I think I have that for most pieces, and quickly realize that any given piece, in fact, blows.

Now I need to score it. I wrote it into a full score, which I almost never do, so it’s basically orchestrated, but a lot of things are for MIDI playback, not real people. The big climax currently uses 12 trombones and 16 French horns, for example. Cool if it’s for the Texas All-State band, but not so realistic in the rest of the world. There are also several percussion place-holders, like a tam-tam scrape where it’ll actually be bowed. So the next several days will be spent creating the full score.

On paper, this thing looks really easy, and would pass for a “Grade 3.” (That basically means not-good-high-school-band level.) It’s almost entirely 8th-notes or slower, and basically in 4/4 the whole time. It’s loaded with exposed delicate solos, though, and some of the dense harmony is going to be a bitch to tune. In other words, it could sound really, really bad if a bad band plays it. With a good band, though, I’m optimistic. Fortunately, the schools in the consortium are great, and one of them — James Logan High School — may be the best high school band I’ve ever heard. (It’s really their fault that the piece is this hard.)

I’m off to pour some coffee and get crackin’. After literally months of self-doubt about where this was going — and countless days spent thinking “maybe I should just transcribe an old piece” — the hard part is done!


Cathy says

Congratulations on getting to this step of this piece, John. I can't wait to hear it. Hopefully, not on the marching field.... (You know how I am about your pieces out on the marching field.)

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

Remember, the key to a good MS band piece is the title. Usually they contain three words. The first, is a color. The second word, typically is something in nature. And the third word could be a noun of some sort. For example:

Blue Ridge Saga

Steve says

...or maybe "Red Lion Tango" perhaps?

(I literally could not resist that one...)

Congrats. I wish I were on that end of this piece I'm working on. I'm still at the "every idea I have sucks" stage.

Lookin' forward to hearing it, MackDaddy!

Kevin Howlett says

Daniel, I'm sure you're aware that Blue Ridge Saga is a Swearingen piece...

Looking forward to hearing it as well, John!

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says


And yes Kevin... I was hoping someone would get the joke.

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