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Animal Songs


The ideas for Animal Songs grew organically over a period of time. My initial intent was to write music for the reed quintet – an ensemble that I find more inviting thanthe woodwind quintet, largely due to its homogeneity. As I dove into writing this piece, I began to notice (or imagine) some similarities to certain members of the AnimalKingdom. Thus,the scope of the piece was informed by what types of and how many different animals I wanted to include. While it would be easy to write about more commonanimals (cat, dog, horse, etc.), I wanted to give respect and attention to animals that do not normally receive their fair share of publicity.

The Squirrel, The Barracuda and The Snail were mostly completed in one night, while The Axolotl and The Bonobo took several months to finish.


The Squirrel utilizes verticalchunks of material that appear suddenly, often with no preparation. While listening to this music, one can imagine the skittish nature of a squirrel in a park. The Barracuda utilizes a four-note shape (the first four notes of the piece), which mirrors the pronunciation of the word 'barracuda'. Key-clicks from the ensemble imply thesnapping of jaws. The image of a snail stretching itself over along period of time to travel from one branch to another wastheinspirationforthethirdmovement. Although typically seen as aless 'serious' animal, I feel that the act of traveling – or even just surviving – must be an exhausting one for the snail. As such, The Snail takes on a noble quality that one might not ordinarily expect to associate with this animal. The Axolotl is quitemusically sarcastic. Beginning with a lop-sided waltz, the odd appearance of this animal is mirrored in the tempovariations that permeate the work. The final movement, The Bonobo, seekstosynthesizemusicalelementsfrompriormovements, drawing most heavily from The Squirrel throughout. Various cute chimp-like sounds occur, until thelistener is reminded near the end that even the cutest monkey is still a wild ape that should not be trusted.



For Many Chairs


For Many Chairs (my crow some funny) is a four movement work for full orchestra. I set out to write this piece as a way to explore aesthetic qualities different  from anything I had written at that point. The title is a (family friendly) double entendre of sorts, and the subtitle is really just a single entendre, as the phrase on it's own makes no sense whatsoever. It may be helpful to pronounce the title and subtitle in several different ways; the nature of the piece may be made clearer upon a successful phonetical interpretation of each phrase.
This work placed first in the FSU Orchestral Composition Competition and was premiered by the Tallahassee Composer's Orchestra.



© 2014-2020 by Jamie Wind Whitmarsh.