Gunther Schuller – On Winged Flight

  • Participant
    vince-pierce on #147170

    I was just wondering if anyone has performed this piece? It is for wind band, originally written for the U.S. Air Force Band. I have so far discovered that the part is totally un-idiomatic and pretty much entirely inaudible, as well as having the most impossible pedal changes. What does one do with a piece like this? It’s hard to commit to practicing hours on this piece when no one can hear my part. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    Vince

    Participant
    katherine-willow on #147171

    I played this years ago. In terms of the pedals, I had to re-write several chords enharmonically. I recall there were times the part would have a Bb, B, C, and C# in the same chord… had to re-write as A#, B, C, and Db to make it work with the pedals. I’m surprised you say the harp part is inaudible, though; I found it to be quite exposed, and there are certain times when the harp is the only instrument playing, or is one of only two instruments playing. Usually, this wasn’t on the “big” chords but on the single notes. The piece is all about tone colors and textures, and the harp plays a big role in that!

    In short…
    1) Killer to learn, but very cool piece
    2) Re-write enharmonically to make the pedals work
    3) Count, count, count

    Participant
    vince-pierce on #147172

    Hi Katherine,
    Thanks for your response – oddly enough it has been a year and a day since I posted that! You are right – in some parts the harp is very audible, especially in the second movement with the odd rhythms and single notes. Other parts were with loud low brass, those were what I was referring to. I ended up doing the best I could with the pedals, although as I worked them out they were still not arranged in the best way. I definitely would put more work into it if I had to play this piece or another like it again. I feel strongly about realizing the composer’s intentions, even if that does mean a ton of work for us harpists. Thanks again for the response though!

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