The Brass Variations (last updated Nov. 11, 2022)

This page will be a running list of fragments used in the building of this work. The first, being the actual theme of the composition, will be used (in whole or in part) to generate all of the other fragments, which, in turn, will be used to generate the specific variations in which they occur.

The Theme

Writing a theme needn’t be “rocket science,” depending on the overall approach the composer uses. In my case, I’ve written 4+ measures stated by the first trumpet as a solo….

It’s simple, and in G minor, as much as any of my melodies are in a “major” or “minor” key. The goal here is to provide a few melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic bits which I can use later. The entire theme exposition can be listened to by clicking below.

Go to the Full Thematic Statement.

Variation #1 — “The Song”

If you look very closely, this new melodic fragment is the first two measures of the theme above, only upside-down, and at exactly half-tempo (♪ = ♩).

“The Song” as a title is a bit of wishful thinking — it’s melodic, but not exactly a melody. The entire variation is available below.

Go to Variation #1: “The Song”

Variation #2 — “The Skip”

If you compare this fragment to the original theme above, you’ll find it’s the same — sorta — all rhythm has been stripped out, as well as a part of measure 3 and most of measure 4. I’ve also taken the fragment and crammed it into an odd meter (9/8, grouped 4, 2, 3). This figure serves as an accompaniment for a melody carried by the trombone initially. You’ll hear all that on the page with the full variation.

Go to Variation #2: “The Skip”

Variation #3 — “The Pause”

The fragment driving this variation is extremely short, and derived from a piece of the theme above (the tail end of the 2nd measure), altered a bit to fit the meter. In keeping with its name, it will consist of slow, sustained chords broken up by dead air, in deliberate contrast to the quick and odd Variation #2, and the snappy Variation #4.

Go to Variation #3: “The Pause”

Variation #4 — “The March”

Besides sounding different (the instruments are con sordino — with mutes), this variation is the original theme, again upside-down and slightly modified, and has a march-like step.

Go to Variation #4: “The March”

Variation #5 — “The Chase”

This variation will serve two purposes: 1) to provide a fugue based on a fragment occurring late in Variation #1 (fugue themes “chase” each other!), and 2) to provide a build to a coda and return of the original theme. The fragment below doesn’t sound like much, but with additional contrapuntal voices, it serves its purpose quite nicely. Since the tempo is fast (molto allegro), a sharp eye will note that, in fact, the beginning of this fragment matches the very beginning of the main theme, which will help when the variation transitions to a full thematic statement.

Go to Variation #5: “The Chase”

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