ISCM

C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

D0 note (18.35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

F0 note (21.83 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

G0 note (24.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

A0 note (27.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

Harrison Stephens, Marian: OUT OF KILTER 

 

 

Basic information

  • Title: 
    OUT OF KILTER
  • Subtitle: 
    sounding scenes from Black America
  • Duration (in minutes): 
    12
  • Year of composition: 
    2007
  • First performance (year): 
    2010
  • First performance (venue): 
    University of Indiana Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, IN
  • First performance (performers): 
    Indiana University Orchestra under the direction of Kevin Noe (The revised version was first performed in 2019 by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Raphel at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, MI)
  • Publisher: 
  • Conductor: 
    Obligatory
 

Notes

  • Program notes: 

    There are approximately thirteen miles between the Bankhead Courts housing project development, (a fenced-in, self-sustaining dwelling that includes its own elementary school, public library and convenience store) and the High Museum of Art (a multi-million dollar complex located in the center of Atlanta's extremely affluent arts district). Three miles from Bankhead Courts, and eleven miles from the High Museum of Art, is the Historic Larchmont-Kildare Community where I spent a privileged childhood that included many trips to the High.

    Despite the short distance between my neighborhood and Bankhead Courts, I never considered life so out of kilter in such close proximity between the two communities until the year 2000. That year I received a CLiCC (Creating Links between Composers & Communities) grant from the Atlanta Chapter of the American Composers Forum to implement my program, Project MAP (music, art, poetry), into a Bankhead Courts Elementary fifth grade classroom. I soon realized that lack of opportunity, coupled with a constant bombardment of real-life negative images, reinforced daily by the media, was the main catalyst for many of the problems facing the Bankhead Courts community. The same functioned as the major difference between Miss Jefferson's "Super-Intelligent" Fifth Graders, as they came to be called, and me. I learned that in the minds of these children any kind of exposure, although negative, is better than none. Sadly enough, such negative representations, at the very least, shed light on their existence.

    As one who is privileged with opportunities, the idea of riding 13 miles away from home is not a huge feat. However, when Miss Jefferson's "Super Intelligent" fifth graders boarded a bus in April of 2001, they were excited beyond their wits about taking such a ride to visit the High Museum. Many of them had no idea that Atlanta was home to one of the countries top museums, and that they too were privileged to enjoy its collections, as I had done at their age. That day was a great success. I often wonder about Miss Jefferson's "Super Intelligent" fifth graders, and hope that somehow their visit to the High Museum projected light beyond the dark, self-inflicted, media reinforced representations that shape their perceptions of life.

    This true story, coupled with my interpretation of Chase Campbell's images from his children's book, Riding the Sphinx and Other Adventures at the Museum, was the inspiration for OUT OF KILTER: sounding scenes from Black America. Each image is paired with a major section of music, delineated by subtitles, which I created. These subtitles allude to each picture, as I see them, and also to the mood by which each section of music should be performed. The music tells the story of a field trip full of anticipation, enjoyment, sorrow, and pride, as a class of Black American children and their teacher visit a heritage museum, dedicated to them. Ultimately they discover that their life history predates American chattel slavery, and that the pride with which their African ancestors walked, can be transmitted to present African Americans.

    I developed OUT OF KILTER in a “patchwork” fashion, as the music in section four, “Groovin' Grey…gettin' down with the get down,” was conceived first followed by section two, “Running free, Smiling big, Feeling light.” Next I wrote the first section, followed by the last two respectively. Beyond its extra-musical elements exists a work that is simply out of kilter. This is due to my quirky treatment of harmony and rhythm, which are greatly influenced by the music of J. S. Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, David Baker, and Gabriel Yared.

    As the work progresses, two motives are developed in various ways. The first motive is a five-note, ten-measure loop, which is revealed in its entirety at the beginning of “Groovin' grey…gettin' down with the get down.” Using various note value combinations, I redistributed strong and weak beats, while cycling the loop through various meters. This process creates a restless effect, and gives the loop an out of kilter appeal. The loop's distinctive whole-step oscillation permeates the texture of OUT OF KILTER in the form of harmony and melody. This oscillation is introduced and restated by a solo flute in the beginning and end of the piece. In section two, “Running free, Smiling big, Feeling light,” the second motive is introduced. It is characterized by a quick, repetitive harmonic whole-step figure initiated by the trumpets. Paralleling motive one, motive two is also restated at the end of the piece. However, the latter exists in a shortened version.

    OUT OF KILTER was one of four works chosen for Detroit Symphony Orchestra reading sessions coordinated through EarShot, the national orchestral compositions discovery network administered by American Composers Orchestra in partnership with American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA.

  • Technical specs: 

    The 4 horns in F require mutes, the 3 Trumpets in C require both straight mutes & Harmon mutes, and the 2 Tenor Trombones require just straight mutes.

    Additionally a series of seven images from Chase Campbell's children's book, Riding the Sphinx and Other Adventures at the Museum, could be projected during the performance. (Small reproductions of these images appear on page 7 of the PDF of Harrison's orchestra score.) If the orchestra is interested in including the projections they should contact the composer to obtain higher resolution images.

 

Instruments

Total number of musicians: 
64
Musicians1st player2nd player
Flute
3
Piccolo
C
Oboe
2
Oboe
Oboe
Clarinet
2
B-flat
B-flat
Bassoon
2
Bassoon
Bassoon
Horn (F)
4
Trumpet
3
C
C
Trombone
2
Tenor
Tenor
Tuba
1
MusiciansInstruments
Keyboard
1
Piano
Musicians1st player2nd player
Violin
20
Viola
9
Cello
9
Double Bass
6
4-string
4-string

 

 

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