Composing

This is a complete list of compositions and arrangements, mostly and increasingly written in the last ten or fifteen years, but also several from student days, and some from even further back than that. All the listed completed ones are available from The Shop, which on this website I imagine as an old village sweet shop, with large plastic jars of goodies behind the counter. Back in the real world, the goodies here are available either as pdfs or more attractive publications, or from other publishers. The items are listed in order of forces involved, from Solo Trombone to full Symphony Orchestra, then to other and more varied groups. I’ve listed all the completed ones first, with a section at the end called ‘On Ice’ for various projects that for one reason and another got left behind. They’re unfinished business, and will all be returned to, especially if there’s any interest in them.

As of October 2020, please note that some works are marked Not Available Yet, or NAY. The music is all there, written and completed, it’s just a question of organising it and presenting it as a thoroughly professional end product. But please do leave me a message if you’re interested in them, and I’ll make them available ASAP. Thanks.

THE FULL CATALOGUE

This is a complete list of compositions and arrangements, for all sorts of ensembles.  It starts with just one solo trombone, then expands to lots of low brass combinations, up through the section and out to other sections, and up to full orchestra. Also further-out ensembles such as a school guitar group, some pop songs, and one group with, among other things, a vibraphone, two flugels, bass guitar and an ocarina. Not everything is fully available yet, but any demand will fix that! Some pieces aren’t even properly finished (the ‘On Ice’ section), but they’re here, partly as a reminder to me to go back and sort them out. And apologies in the Brass Quintet section to John Iveson, for using a technique that I learnt from him and naming it after him (see Sailor’s Hornpipe, Deck the Halls and Stevie Wonder goes to the Blaydon Races).

All titles available in  The Shop

…unless you see the acronym NAY (see above).

Original Compositions

Fantasia for Solo Trombone

This won the 2007 BTS composer’s competition, in the unaccompanied category.  Malcolm Arnold wrote 12 Fantasies for solo instruments, including all the brass; this is my homage to his trombone piece.  It is dedicated to Ian Bousfield, and published by Warwick Music.

The Celestial Bear
On a trip back from Moldova in 2013 I had a 4-hour wait at Bucharest Airport.  Instead of wasting it, I decided to do something useful, and before I knew it the opening phrase had appeared.  Things developed very naturally, and this entire piece came into being very quickly.  As it gathered momentum, I realised I was writing it with Byron Fulcher (Principal Trombone of the Philharmonia) in mind, and his particular style of playing.  This helped, as did noticing the name of the Romanian beer I was drinking: Ursus. So now, along with the headlong through-composing, I had a personal direction and a title.  After a week of tweaking it at home, the piece was finished, but it was almost all completed, from start to finish, in that burst in a foreign airport. Strange where and when inspiration strikes. Even the randomly-chosen title works, as Byron’s playing is pretty muscular (though not furry) and heavenly. Also Warwick Music.

The Singing Minotaur
Davur Juul Magnussen made a fantastic solo CD, recorded in a sea cave at his home in the Faroes Islands. The echo effect is mesmerising, and I was drawn to write this piece for him and his cave. Without barlines, it’s a free-time exploration of the echo effect, with a back story of the Minoan minotaur in his labyrinth. Of course we don’t all have access to sea caves, so of course this piece works just as well in all echoey acoustics: churches, stairwells, most open spaces. Take your trombone outside. I probably wouldn’t try your local swimming baths though. Warwick Music.

I’ve also found with this one that a good, spooky replica of the cave (or to create your own Minoan labyrinth) is to plug yourself into one of those Yamaha mutes with headphones, put the echo up to maximum and play through this in the dark (from memory, obviously). Very eerie and just the right atmosphere.

The Lafosse Dozen.

Trombone players the world over are familiar with the set of trombone tutors written by Andre Lafosse in 1921 (the first 2 volumes, Book 3 in 1946), covering basic and advanced trombone technique from top to bottom.  If at any stage you’ve learnt the trombone using these guides, you won’t have gone far wrong, and the three books are pretty much regarded as the trombonist’s bible.

In the middle of Book 3, there are 12 exercises, a sort of Sacred Dozen (!), focussing on various different aspects of trombone technique.  Lafosse described them as ’12 exercises on the whole technique of the instrument’  In the 12 studies presented here, I’ve tried to create updated versions of Lafosse’s exercises.  They each concentrate on exactly the same techniques and difficulties as his did (with one exception), and I’ve tried to keep the essence of the originals, whilst being written 65 years later.  I’ve tried to reproduce and develop the technical issues raised, taking their individual challenges and raising them, extending them in range. As with the originals, there’s plenty to practice!

The exception, technically, is the final exercise.  Lafosse used this to explore mordants, ornaments whose use is virtually non-existent in today’s orchestral repertoire, and which barely raise their head even in solo pieces.  So I’ve used number 12 as a very tromboney piece instead, concentrating on a big sound, some delicate high playing and some fanfare music.

They are almost all in the same keys as the originals, the exception being that I’ve added a # to number 8.  It was difficult in B major but I felt a study in the attractive key of F# took things a step further.  They are all at roughly the same speeds as Lafosse’s, and are all very close to his lengths.  The originals vary widely in length, from a wholetone runaround that has only 25 bars, to the extensive 109 bars of number 8.

The idea is to provide today’s trombonist with another dozen studies to practice, very much based on Lafosse’s famous etudes, but harmonically and technically bringing them into the 21st century.

I admit that producing these was something of a compositional exercise for me, to produce modern replicas, pastiches of someone else’s original work. With my educator’s hat on I couldn’t resist very occasional hints at repertoire (Stravinsky Octet, Prokofiev 3, Till Eulenspiegel, Scheherezade, Petrushka, YPG). I think I’ve done the replicating thing quite well, and of the course the result is as above, yet more new dots for the modern trombonist to look at. Number 8 is bloody hard though!

May 2011.

Sight-Reading Studies
There are three books of these, with 24 tunes in each, one tune for every key. That’s 72 catchy little numbers, but watch out, they’re there to be sight-read, so keep your wits about you! Published by BrassWorks.

Elegy 4 Ellie J

This is not an Elegy at all, there’s nothing mournful or melancholic about it. The title is merely a reference to Bernstein’s solo trombone piece ‘Elegy for Mippy II’, which he wrote about his brother’s dog. Ellie is our cat, and this piece is a sort of Day in the Life, following her biorhythms and those of cats in general. I didn’t want the piece to be too specifically personal, it’s as much a generic nod towards cats and their many traits. So there are no accurately-pitched renditions of Ellie’s squeaks and entreaties, I haven’t been following her round with a microphone; you can take program music too far.

Various Exercises

3 groups of fps, P&P (Pitching and Production), Pesante, Elephants, Rosolinos, S4S (Serious for Stamina), Iberian Swoops and Belshazzer’s Digs. All aids to sound, advanced technique and solid orchestral playing. NAY

Introductions to the Trombone

During Lockdown, as many others were, I was put on the spot by doing a live stream, a very short concert, just solo trombone and whatever resources I could muster to try to cover me up! I wanted to start straight in with music, not a verbal introduction, something that would show the trombone off, but that was very short, a quick burst of ‘here we are, welcome, and this is my trombone!’ idea.

So these Introductions were born. Each, in the space of just over a minute, shows off some characteristics of this characterful instrument. Then after playing whichever Introduction you’ve chosen for that performance, you can say hello, and describe the moods you’ve just portrayed. Below are the moods as I see them, but feel free to interpret differently, with different descriptions.

1. The First Introduction expresses the trombone’s characters of Bombast, Martial music, Ethereal and Jazz.
2. The Second Introduction shows the instrument’s flair for Warmth, Demonstrative, even Wild music, and Big Band style.
3. The Third Introduction displays the aspects of Jazz, Heroic music and the Delicate, Comic, Circus-like side.
4. The Fourth Introduction introduces the trombone by showing off some Proclamatory Fanfare music, then Sinister, then Sweet and Light.
5. I got a bit more expansive for the final and Fifth Introduction, and this simply reads Noble, orchestral / Star Wars / Brass Band March / Aggressive, powerful / Medieval, prayer-like / Frivolous. It is slightly longer than the others, but still well under 2 minutes.

The live stream situation is of course very similar to many solo features: from short demos of the instrument to full-blown recitals. These Introductions serve as a musical ‘Hello’ in any of these places, just choose whichever most suits what you want to say about the instrument, or what pieces are in the rest of the programme.

Another angle, for younger people really, in a school demo, perhaps, would be to dive in with any of these, then ask them to think of moods/descriptive words that the music made them think of while you play it again, then compare their ideas to what’s on the page. There is, of course, no right or wrong.

May 2020.

THE RECITAL
If I’ve had a Big Idea in the last few years, this is it. I noticed, when at student recitals, that too much of the repertoire was the same stuff I’d been playing at college 30 years ago. To gain the contrast they needed for their performance, students are still having to crowbar in the Serocki Sonatina (not that that isn’t a brilliant piece, of course), or the Casterede, the Defaye Dances, or the Hindemith Sonata.

So I decided to write an entire recital, one where the contrasts are already built-in, the different styles, moods etc, and I could tie the whole lot up musically, so that the pieces actually relate to each other, they’re in a balanced order, with recurring motifs, with a start that comes back at the end; the whole thing is like a prog rock album.

For full details of this new idea, see the Home Page, or listen to any of it in the Virtual Venue.  All the music is available here in the Shop.

Elements
My other Big Idea. Also in the college recitals, students are often asked to show proficiency on ‘doubling’ instruments. This ticks boxes, but can take up a lot of space in a recital, when other boxes are there too, such as contemporary or baroque style, jazz, solo or with ensemble, and so on. So here is a piece that ticks the doubling box in one go, with four movements, one for each instrument. Therefore the first movement is for the trombone, the second for the euphonium, the third bass trumpet, and the fourth for alto. The title refers to the four ancient Greek elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, in that order.

Excerpt Suite for Bass Trombone
Three movements based on seven of the most famous Bass Trombone orchestral excerpts. ‘Seven Days’ is written around the solo in Mahler 7, and the bass line in the Haydn Creation. ‘Chorale, Pageant and Hop’ refers to Schumann 3 and The Miraculous Mandarin. And ‘The Cosmic Choir’ features Beethoven 9, the Janacek Sinfonietta, and the deep tune with the tuba at the end of Jupiter in The Planets.  My piece takes the excerpt material and uses it in many ways, so at times it’s like playing the excerpts inside out. I hope that students will benefit from playing this suite and that it’s an aid to playing the original excerpts. Written in September 2017, it’s published by Warwick Music.

Cereal Bars
This was written for Christian Jones, and is a foray into serialism, though I hope an attractive and relate-able one. July 2017. Also published by Warwick Music.

Waltz and Skedaddle*
Written for a performance at an International Trombone Federation bash in 2006, for Katy Price and Christian Jones, shortly before they got married.  Based on their initials, and the imminent wedding, the theme takes its cue from the song about Casey Jones, the American pioneer.

 

Red Blue Yellow.

Commissioned by the British Trombone Society for its 30th anniversary in September 2015.

Dedicated to Adrian Morris, FRNCM, PPRNCM.

RBY is a piece of many colours, not just the three primary ones.  I have tried to portray some facet of the tones you get when you mix two of the three colours on a palette, i.e. orange, green and purple/violet, and of course black, the dark heart of the piece when you mix all three colours together.  Thus black is a confluence of the Red, Blue and Yellow themes, crushed together. With all these colours and different portrayals, it’s quite a detailed score.

The bedrock of the music is its motif, a six note sequence derived from the letters BTS, and the numbers 30 and 2015.  There were all sorts of criteria to be filled, from BTS requests, and my own compositional expectations.  There are three sections, one for each of the primary colours, and each featuring a different member of the trombone section as soloist.

Red said to me many things, and the theme is strong, dangerous, even devilish, and the focus is on the Bass Trombone.  There’s a part of the Red section of the piece, and I fully admit this, that blatantly uses a Lutoslawski effect that I’ve always enjoyed, and this section also keeps stopping, as you would at a red light.  Purple appears as the motif twisted into a famous Deep Purple riff, and Orange is a similar distortion of the Dutch national anthem!  Between these the Black crush is heard, set off by the Bass Trombone Red motif, added to by the Blue and Yellow themes, which we haven’t heard yet in their own contexts.

I felt Blue to be gentler, with images of sea and sky.  The Second Trombone emerges and introduces calm, bubbling coral reef water, before the Blue theme.  Violet flowers wave in the wind, and there’s an open Green park, perhaps where the flowers are.  After the central Black music, the music relaxes and the Blue theme is heard in its full harmony, before we finally bubble to a calm finish.

Yellow is bright sunlight, and starts with a dazzling introduction.  But soon the jaunty Yellow theme sets off on First Trombone, and leads to a very fast dovetailed section, where the three trombones jointly play faster than they could as individuals.  The secondary colours are treated differently than they were in the previous two movements, in that Orange is now a heat-haze, hot waves above a desert, and Green is now dark green, a murky forest.  Black has its say, but only very briefly before a recapitulation of Yellow, which leads to the solid end, a climax of the BTS motif.

August 2015.

24 New Bach Chorales
Actually there are 32 of them.  More updating (see Lafosse studies, above).  In 1961, David Fetter at the Eastman School in America transcribed 22 Bach Chorales for trombone quartet.  They’re invaluable material for ensemble training, focussing the attention on tuning, balance, phrasing, articulation, etc.  50 years later, in 2011, I wrote 32 of my own, in the same style, in every key (12 majors plus 12 minors = 24), several with non-traditional time signatures, following Bach’s rules of 4-part harmony.  The reason for doing this was, I hope, similar to David Fetter’s: to have beautiful pieces of music for a trombone quartet to enjoy , and also to have them as an aide to ensemble training: quartet practice, musically and technically.  I see no reason why much more modern chords and harmonies shouldn’t be practiced and enjoyed, studied and relished as more traditional ones are.  Any contemporary chord can be just as beautiful as a straight F major, and poses the same tests of intonation, balance etc. Four of the Chorales have three different harmonisations, which is why 24 Chorales have become 32. Two of the Chorales are quartertonal, and the same theory applies: a chord a quartertone high or low should be just as in tune as one at regular pitch. Though it’s fun trying to achieve this! The example above is number 11 of the 24, one of the first written, in 2011. Published by https://www.bonesapartpublishing.com/apps/webstore/products/show/8117059

Chiswell Galop
Opposite the Guildhall School there used to be a marvellous pub called the Chiswell Vaults.  It was a stony cellar, with candles stuffed in Moet bottles on the tables, and occasionally the Guildhall trombone choir would play in there.  It must have been deafening for the lunchtime city folk, but the pub seemed keen for us to do it, and paid us in fish; huge trays of seafood and pints of prawns.  But in 1986 the pub closed, we did our final gig down there, including this piece, which we played exaggeratedly several times that day.  Well, we were hungry. Published by Trombone Music.

Cold Tea, Toast and Marmalade
A bass trombone feature, started off by a bluesy riff.  Over the years many people have asked Why? about the title.  The words fit the riff, it was that way round.  I was a scraggy student living in a tiny room in a gloomy north London house at the time, I think that best explains the riff and the words.  The middle section is funkier, but still a bass trombone tune, for a while anyway.  Later on there’s a walking bass section before the music returns to its original dingy mood and fades on a question.  It is recorded and published by Bones Apart.

Kaleidoscope
Written in Feb 2011, this is a visual trombone quartet.  I don’t think this has been done before, and I’m surprised, as the trombone is surely the most visually attractive of all instruments, the shiny, slidey thing at the back that changes shape when activated.  There are 3 short movements: 1. Flowers; 2. Oscillations, and 3. One Big Slide.

Loopy Louise

Loopy Louise is my wife Helen.  On a train journey to Manchester, she suggested I write something for just mouthpieces, so that’s what this is.  Or intended to be, anyway.  It works much better on the whole instrument, and is an encore piece, containing 10 ways to say Goodbye, in about 90 seconds.

Bones on Broadway
In summer 1989 I hadn’t much to do.  With no particular interest in going home, I sat in my Walthamstow flat and ate Indian food for 3 months.  In between mouthfuls I came up with this set of 12 trombone quartets. They were all a bit New Yorky, and a group I used to play in entertained the citizens at the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre; the title was obvious. NAY

Senoras
In February 2010, the brilliant trombone quartet Bones Apart commissioned me to write them a set of variations on the theme Spanish Ladies.  The initial idea was of a traditional Air Varie, where there are increasingly flashy versions of the tune, but I soon realised I could have much more fun than that.  Much more work too, but the piece would be better for it if I treated the melody like Enigma Variations, where Elgar takes snippets of his tune and uses them to create entirely different characters.  So the tune was chopped up, overturned, reversed etc, all common techniques, and we ended up with a series of 6 variations.  These are Polka, Habanera, Solonelle, Zortziko, a kind of sultry Danse Macabre which I’ve called Muerte Blues, and finally Rondo.  For those that don’t know -and I didn’t – a Zortziko is an authentic Spanish dance, mostly in the north, and is in 5/4 time, with the beats divided into 1 + 2 + 2. Published by Bones Apart.

Scenes from Sherwood
Again for Bones Apart, this was finished in November 2012 for the group’s ‘Legends’ programme.  It’s a telling of the Robin Hood story, in a series of scenes like a film.  Some of the characters differ from tradition: Robin Hood is a brigand, perhaps heroic but a hardened outlaw all the same; Maid Marion is an utterly alluring temptress, nothing like a damsel, and the Sheriff of Nottingham is a podgy adversary to Robin’s men.  There is a showdown, with glissando arrows whizzing between the trees of Sherwood Forest, victory stays in the hands of Robin and tradition, and the film ends in the forests murky depths. Published by Bones Apart.

Chant of the Plains

The initial idea was that of a chops-break piece for quartet. Something slow and clear. That didn’t work. Instead what emerged was a piece based entirely on open 5ths, as much of medieval plainchant is. But the feel of this was one of open prairies, and somehow, of American Indians. You can see how I got to the title.

National Anthems in the style of Lutoslawski

This is the Polish and British national anthems portrayed using a few of Lutoslawski’s personal signature effects and techniques.  Before starting, basics. Both anthems are in 3, a fairly unusual time for an anthem, so I thought this piece should be too.  And the Polish anthem is traditionally in Eb major, the British in G, so I simply jumped in the middle and set off in F major. There are four Sections, the third split into sub-sections / bars. It’s around three and a half minutes long.

Section 1. has several components. The general style is based firmly on a single idea from the third movement of Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra, possible his most famous work. In this, the piano has several gloriously murky run-ups which lead to quiet string notes.  So I have spooky swoops which land on held notes.  These held notes are, initially, the first half of the first section of the Polish anthem, though this becomes simply the top line after a while.  There are silences and space, which Lutoslawski enjoyed, and throughout this Section the starting notes of each swoop spell out the first phrase of the British anthem.  In this first Section, both national anthems bear no rhythmic relation to their recognisable originals; they’re hard to spot.

However in Section 2, when we jump triumphantly up to A major, both national anthem second phrases are clearly audible, syncopated against a strict beat, my favourite Lutoslawski effect. At the end of this Section, both themes are played together and lead to an abrupt anticipatory chord.

The mood suddenly changes in my Section 3, in which practice mutes are used. This Section uses another common technique of Lutoslawski’s, which he called ‘limited aleatoricism’.  Here, things are notated differently, without bar lines or time signatures, and there is an element of chance, as Trombone 1 decides when each quiet sub-section should finish. Each player has their own set of notes, derived from the four different sections of the anthems, to play in any rhythm they wish, and with breaks wherever they wish. These aleatoric bars are interspersed with short, violent outbursts.  The last of these subsides and calms.

Section 4 is simply an ending, and almost all just Lutoslawski.  The piano idea returns just once, using his actual notes this time, before returning to the beautiful end of the first movement of the Concerto for Orchestra.  There are tiny glimpses of the anthems, before a celeste-imitating chiming of two mouthpieces being tapped together takes us to the end.

August 2018.

Nature Boy

This is one of the most beautiful tunes I know, in large part because of the lyrics, which instead of crooning about a love for someone else, the song’s message is of the purity of love from someone else. Seems a selfish notion but it’s a wonderful little tale in just two short verses. It was written by Eden Ahbez in 1947, which means it’s still under copyright, so here’s a free audio file of my arrangement.

Ahbez was surely THE original hippie. In quite a spectacular way, in that he lived in a tent behind the first L in the famous Hollywood sign, how cool is that? He only ate veg and fruit, with the occasional nut for a treat, and looked and dressed like Jesus. What a man.

Trombone Sextet*
Good title eh?  Written in 1984, we played it on the NYO Summer Course that year. A better piece than the title. 

Romeo and Juliet in Space*
Good title eh? Another piece that’s more rock than classical really.  In fact there is a version with drum kit, which is the version I always listen to.  And another of my weird titles. It’s just because it’s lovey-dovey at the beginning and end, with what I then considered rather astral, floaty chords.  The middle is all driving rock for trombones. 

Trombone Octet*
A ditty really, written pre-college. NAY

From Princip to Poppies
This is a sad story all about WW1; is there any other kind?  It’s one of my more descriptive works in that musically, a story is told, with distinct events and a main character. Warwick Music.

Riffem and Blues
Expanding forces further, to 12 trombones, this piece has made it to performance, by the students of Trinity College, the Royal College, and the trombones of RAF Northolt so far.  I’d had the riff for ages and knew roughly what I was going to do with it.  The piece starts with a musical “Hello” on mixed mutes, then the riff starts in the distance and builds up around it, then it skips a beat and falls into a big blues, in the manner of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk.  The riff returns and fades, finally ending with the opening reversed, now as a musical “Goodbye”.  There’s a piece for brass band called Jamie’s Patrol, about an American Civil War band, which starts with the bugles and drums over the hill, approaching until the full cavalry sweeps past, then  strides off into the distance again.  Very atmospheric, and obviously an influence on Riffem and Blues.   It is published by Roger Harvey at Brass Works.

Fanfare and Calypso
And still further, for 18 trombones now, this was written for a big trombone gathering that took place in Devon a few years ago. I spent ages writing the parts out, then copying them and the score, then put the lot in the post.  They never arrived.  This was at a time when the Post Office was briefly taken over and given a new name, and so this piece’s other title is Ode to St. Consignia. Also published by Brass Works.

 

1. Fanfare of the Ants

In May 2020, the wonderful Alan Thomas asked me (and many others) to write him a one-minute piece. This was during Lockdown, so he could take off on his bike, stop wherever he wanted, perform a quick piece to whoever was nearby, then scarper before the police showed up! He asked me for a ‘busy’ piece, because he was seeing a lot of traffic on the roads south of Birmingham. So after writing it, ‘The Roundabout’, ‘At the Lights’, ‘All That Traffic’, even ‘Busy Enough For You?’ were mooted as titles. Then I thought of this one.

Little Suite for Trumpet and Trombone*
The first movement of this piece can be found bigged-up as the first movement of Factions.  Mike Allen (Co-Principal trumpet in the RPO) and I spent a month in 1988 touring round Germany with an American Company doing West Side Story.  It was brilliant fun at that age, and we couldn’t care less that some of the venues were pretty iffy.  In Munich we did the show in a circus, and you could smell the elephant shit while you were playing.  I’d already written most of this piece, and in Munich, Mike and I went round the back to the pungent animal enclosures, stood amongst the straw and finished it there.

 

Freeway
This is published by BrassWind, and the titles of the 4 movements are Canzon Cabriolet, Jag Rag, Lay-By Lullaby and Rondo a la Trucker.  But this is all bollocks.  The piece was written as Dutch Suite.  A quintet at college got a date at a function in the Savoy, at which the Dutch Prime Minister would be present.  I dashed off this piece and we all turned up at the hotel.  It never got played, one of the trumpet players forgot his music.  For the record, the original titles, before corporate sellability stepped in, (and these are no better, by the way) are Rembrandts Rondo, Windmill Rag, Tulip Serenade and Clog Danse (so spelled because it’s like Danse Macabre.  A bit).  I don’t think the Prime Minister would have liked it much.

Short and Suite for Brass
A fairly fluent piece I wrote quickly in 1998.  It is short and sweet, in 3 movements: A Train Journey; By the Stream; Dance of the Cannon Stoker.  But like Freeway (which actually has yet another set of titles other than the above 2!), this piece sits equally happily as Wild West Suite, with the movements being Union Pacific, Teepee Song, and El Dorado. 

Mnemonyx
This was written for the brilliant brass quintet Onyx Brass in 2012, as a piece without notes.  This serves as what the group call a “chops break”: a piece of music they can put in a programme to perform while not blowing for 10 minutes or so.  I had a lot of fun writing this; like Senoras 2 years earlier it assembled itself very quickly in February (seems to be a good writing month for me).  I used every noisy but non-tonal technique I could think of, including stamping, lip popping, cheek squelching, face slapping, scat singing, ppppring like a horse, and so on.  Then there’s a section where all members of the group recite various mnemonics independently, as if in crowd scene.  Well-known phrases like ‘Thirty days hath September, April, June and November’ and lesser-known gems like ‘O hell, there’s a raccoon in my tent’ and ‘My Enormous Penguin Bounces Pretty High’.  The piece starts using the audience applause from the previous piece, and ends by inducing the audience to clap once more, thereby creating a feeling of continuity in the concert, and of the audience being part of it.  It’s worked very well so far.  Lots of fun.  Published by Onyx.

Factions*
Faction, n. small united group within a larger one.  A three-movement work put together for the now-defunct London Brass Virtuosi.  The first movement is a widened version of the first movement of the Duet for Trumpet and Trombone, see above, and is called Opposing Cannon.  Then follows a flugel solo called The Dove.  This was tried out by a brass group in south London, and the flugel player complained about the fingering of a trill.  She certainly had a point, but soon afterwards another group played it, featuring the guy I’d had in mind when writing it, the brilliant jazz trumpeter Henry Lowther.  He just played it.  The last movement is a dynamic piece in 5/8 called Crossfire. 1993 I think. NAY

6/8 The Sequel*
This is a 10-minute run around Gilbert and Sullivan.  All the big hits are here, dotted with quotes from even more.  Doing D’Oyly Carte Opera in the 1980s and early 90s, I once asked a friend to cover some shows for me.  On the phone, as he wrote in his diary, he had a mental blank when it came to spelling D’Oyly Carte.  After having a few goes, in the end he said “Oh fuck it, I’ll just put 6/8”. 

Caledonian Suite*
Too much to say about this piece.  So I’ll leave it that it’s a biggie, 3 movements, over 20 minutes; and that it’s a personal memento to a horn player friend who died in 1995.  There’s lots of him in it. NAY

ICOlogy*

Here is a Hoedown, written in 2011 for the brass and percussion sections of ICO. ICO is an orchestra based in Warsaw, comprising of young musicians from seven eastern / ex-Soviet countries: Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. For those eastern players, I wrote the most Western-like tune I could think of, a Hoedown.

Nowadays, and in The Shop, this piece is also available for brass band, and symphonic wind band.

I say Big Band but it’s a small one really.  The line-up is 3 saxes (alto, tenor, baritone – what a sound a bari sax makes!), 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, piano, bass, drums and guitar. Amos Miller played in a group of that instrumentation and I wrote these first 3 pieces in a batch in 2006, for his group, the fantastically-named Big Buzzard Boogie Band.

Speedbird
I’d had this tune going on for years, scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere.  I showed it to Amos one time and said I’d never known what to do with it.  He suggested the Buzzards. Speedbird is a punchy piece, always driving forward, propelled by a ‘push’ in every bar.  The featured solos are on tenor sax then guitar.  And it goes up a key all the time, which nearly led to it being called Upward Circles, which is of course what buzzards do.

Low Down and Dirty
Quite the opposite of Speedbird, this is sleazy stuff, in 9/4.  It sets off at a hell of a lick but soon collapses into a dark, smoky riff.  The tenor sax takes a solo before being undertaken by the sultry baritone in its sultriest register.  The piece builds with a huge crescendo, and ends as low and dirty as possible, on the deepest note of the piano. 

Under the Baking Sun
The third of my initial forays into this style and ensemble, this portrays a hot, shimmering day, probably in a desert, where you can see the heatwaves hovering over the sand.  The double bass is an unlikely soloist, accompanied by tinkling, drifting piano, up to its highest note this time.  The piece grasps reality for a while in the middle, in a sturdier section, though the heatwaves still float and throb, then the hot landscape returns, but dreamlike, like a mirage.  The piece ends in one of my favourite ways: it just stops. 

Uh-oh!
The riff is straightforward enough, in 7/4, but the chords are dangerous, and the drum stays in simple time throughout, which twists everything.  The Uh-oh!, therefore, is not of the cuddly Teletubby variety, this is much more edgy. NAY

Fanfare for Alan Carter
Alan Carter was one of the stage managers for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, did that job for many orchestras since around the Middle Ages, and was one of the most popular and chirpy characters in the London music profession.  He was born in Covent Garden in 1938 when it was still a market, and therefore turned 70 on a Prom day in 2008.  I wrote this fanfare for his birthday but we couldn’t play it that day. NAY

KPO Fanfare
The KPO is the Kensington Philharmonic Orchestra, they played this fanfare to prelude their 100th Anniversary concert in 1986. NAY

The next few items are, unless stated, all available for Orchestral Brass section and Percussion, Orchestral Woodwind section and Percussion, Wind / Concert / Symphonic Band and Brass Band.

Little Suite in Compound Time
See below, in Piano Pieces. I wanted to expand this, and full Orchestral Wind Section with percussion seemed the right ensemble for it.  The five short movements make up a Suite of only 9 minutes. Suitable for school ensembles and upwards.

The British Summer NAY

Navarra NAY

Tor NAY

Walthamstow Fanfare NAY

6845815

Icology

Under Brass Tentet, this piece is spelt ICOlogy, as it was written for the eastern European Youth Orchestra ICO. However as this arrangement is also now for (American) Concert Band in all its glory, I’ve simply reverted to Icology, there’s no need for the ICO connection here. See Concert/Symphonic Band, below. Also Brass Band.

Icology

Same piece as for Orchestral Brass and Percussion, and for brass band, here arranged for 39-piece Concert Band.

In 2018 I was asked to arrange a big Finale for the Jersey Chamber Orchestra’s WW1 Centenary celebrations, their Armistice Concert. A version of three hymms – Amazing Grace, I Vow to Thee my Country, and Jerusalem – for full orchestra, full choir, children’s choir, solo soprano and brass band! It was almost comical that as I was writing this, virtually each week a new element would be introduced. It started for orchestra, then I was told about the singers, the big soloist up the front was mentioned almost as an afterthought (!), and finally “…and we’re going to have the local brass band march on towards the end”. Give me strength. This was the first time I’d written anything for brass band, or to put it another way, it was the realisation of a 30-year-old sub-conscious aim of mine to write for that ensemble. I’d started, as so many brass players do, in a band, I’d scribbled a few dots when I was at college, so as soon as I started on the band contribution to the Jersey piece, it really felt like coming home. And has done ever since.

I do write slightly differently from the majority of composers for brass band, in that often, every instrument has their own individual part, i.e. the 2nd and 3rd cornets might be four separate parts, or certainly may divide at times. This splitting up of the band’s sections is to provide greater possibilities, of chord layouts, textures, balance and general interest.  I have been criticised for this, and I can see that side, one practical aspect of which is the everpresent difficulty of getting everyone to every rehearsal. But I also like to give every player their own moments; instead of copying the player next to you for an entire piece, some individuality is very rewarding. I’m not trying to break down any doors, it just seems to me a natural use of a brass band’s great resources.

So here is my brass band output, in the order in which it was written, since that fortuitous commission.

I’ve given rough estimates of the difficulty of each piece.

Sketches of Shetland*
Start small, why don’t you? That would have been the sensible thing. But no, this is a five-movement, continuous twenty-minute piece depicting these beautiful islands. We first went there in 2008, and standing at the very top of Britain, at Hermaness, in freezing rain, watching the furious sea crashing on the rocks and the cliffs round the lighthouse, the gulls and terns whizzing around above the water, I knew this would be great for band. You could almost hear it. It took another ten years (see above) for me to get going on it, but that’s where it started. The five movements are 1. The View; 2. Boat Trip and Cave; 3. Mousa at Midnight; 4. Hoswick Bay, and 5. Hermaness.  Five very different impressions of these spectacular, then adventure-filled, mystical, heroic and stormy islands. You must go.

1st-3rd Section.

The British Summer*
It would help to describe this piece if I gave one of (!) its original titles, which was Fanfare, Theme, Ghosts and Hoedown. This is a melange of a piece, in those implied moods, written as a thankyou to Duncan Wilson and Kidlington Concert Brass for performing Sketches of Shetland, which I must say they did brilliantly. When I couldn’t settle on a title for the melange (and Piecey McPieceface was hard to resist!), I wondered if, when KCB played it, we should have a sort of raffle, where members of the audience could suggest a title, based on what they’d just heard. It was quite an up-and-down summer that year.

1st-4th Section.

Navarra*
This was written for the Cory Composition Competition in 2019, and though it didn’t get anywhere, it has had its followers, and performances. Obviously a Spanish piece, there’s a section that evokes a Spanish guitar, with 6 instruments representing one open string each. It starts as a fiesta, with some flamenco clapping, then the guitar introduces the beautiful middle section, with Navarran desert heatwaves, before a flourish towards the end.

April 2019

1st-3rd Section.

Tor*
There’s a glorious picture of Glastonbury Tor, and I’ve yet to find the photographer who took it. This piece is entirely based on this one incredible image, mostly bright orange, of the sunset mists across the fields, rooks rising from foreground trees, and the magnificent monument itself, just rising on its tor above the clouds.

August 2019

1st-3rd Section.

Walthamstow Fanfare*
I used to live in Walthamstow, and this is a short, light piece, the most traditionally-brass-band I’ve written, with a catchy theme and middle section. What makes it Walthamstow is the postcode bridge section, where during its brief four bars, 17 Es are heard on the flugel and glock. August 2019.

1st/2nd-4th Section.

6845815*
Back to deadly serious for this piece, literally, in a contemporary work about the Hiroshima bomb. The title is the date and time of the explosion. The first half of the piece is utterly innocent, a busy early morning street scene building up. But the plane is heard overhead, and after that it’s pandemonium, musical Chaos. Not without form though, and I hope that the recurring sequence, on which layers of panic and destruction are mounted, serves to enable the listener to bear it. It’s devastating music, as it should be.

January 2020.

1st-3rd Section.

Sea, Storm and Sunset*
After the intensity of 6845, a gentler piece, possibly for youth band at four and a half minutes.  A relaxing sailing trip hits a storm thrown at it by Steve Reich, before the boat sails off into the sunset with a warm flugel solo. This piece set sail after a single low flugel phrase on the telly reminded me what a gorgeous sound that is. While writing the flugel solo, I remembered that my gorgeous friend Amos Miller, force of nature at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire loves heavy jazz chords, so this piece is dedicated to him. It’s nice, this dedicating thing.

March 2020.

1st-4th Section.

The Long and the Short

This is what would stereotypically be called a minimalist piece. It’s entirely based on a single cell, a 5-note phrase of only two pitches. The rhythm roughly resembles the words of the title, and that’s it. I’ve borrowed some effects from Steve Reich, for me the beguiling master of this sort of music: the off-setting of the cell at the beginning and end, repeated and overlapping chords, and big, wide chords underneath the cell. What Reich also does is multiple repetition, his pieces can easily last half an hour and some players will play the same or similar music throughout. This is obviously not physically possible for brass players, so I’ve divided things up a lot, and the entire piece is under seven minutes. After a passage where the overlaid chords are punctuated by more threatening ones, there’s what I’m calling a ‘stereo section’, where, in a normal brass band set-up, the music shifts quickly across the band, so it’s virtually a visual as well as aural experience for the audience. Finally the cell falters, breaks up, and could have ended there but for a final shout to round it off.

April 2020.

1st-3rd Section.

The Return of the Polar Express

Another minimalist piece for band, this time more John Adams than Steve Reich. Listeners will spot that the introductory figure is almost exactly the same as ‘Sea, Storm and Sunset’, there’s only a single semitone difference. However, what comes from it is of course, entirely different, isn’t music amazing? And anyone else would take the same 4 notes and produce another new and completely different piece altogether. This time, the intro is spooky, and the following fast rhythm scrunchy. The train is off, but through uncertain territory. It builds and strengthens, then changes track from C to Ab7, and darker voices are heard underneath. Back to the wilderness. This section ranges though keys, but builds again and swings back into C major. By now the train is flying headlong through much happier scenery, and the repeated riff is firmly rooted in the 4-note beginning. Another swing lands us in the home strait of G major, and the engine is now in its triumphant final rush to the end of the line.

June 2020.

1st/2nd-3rd Section.

A Year and a Day*
My favourite guitarist Jo Satriani has a lovely finger-tapping piece on his 3rd album called Day at the Beach.  As so often happens, I was inspired to write a piece in similar vein.  When he and Steve Vai came to Tower Records many years ago to sign CDs, I was there in the queue, clutching an A4 envelope with my piece in it.  But I arrived too late, and they both shot off to Wembley Arena in a limo before I got to meet them.  I gave the envelope to one of their stage crew, told him what it was and asked him to give it to Mr. Satriani.  I think I know what he did with it.

Trombone Concerto
Published by Brass Works. My favourite Trombone Concerto has always been Edward Gregson’s, so of course that influenced me when I was writing this.  It was written in 1987 for the Final Recital of a fellow student and good friend of mine, Ed Tarrant, so given the 2 Eds, the first movement motif is the notes E and D. The second movement is Shostakovitchian in places, and has a cadenza which introduces third movement material.  23 years later, Robb Tooley (2nd trombone of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) performed the concerto twice, with the St. Aldhelm’s Orchestra in Dorset, conducted by Kevin Smith. It is dedicated to Peter Gane, who did so much to help my career and life when I was at college. Published by BrassWorks.

Trumpet Concerto
This is for chamber orchestra, and was commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia for their brilliant 1st trumpet player, Nick Betts.  I’ve known Nick a long time and I know his distinctive playing very well.  So that made it easier and more satisfying to write for him, as I knew pretty much exactly how he would sound.  A few people have looked at the solo part and done the builder’s intake-of-breath thing, as there are plenty of notes.  I disagree; it’s not too busy at all, as Nick proved in the performances in 2008, and if I was going to go and hear a Trumpet Concerto, I’d want to hear a lot of trumpet in it.  I like giving clues in what I write, and the foundations of the melodic material for all 3 movements are all there in the first 4 bars.  Nick is such a stylish player, it was a joy to write just what I wanted to hear, and more importantly, what he wanted to play. This is dedicated, with apologies, to the late great Roger Brenner, who was 1st trombone in CLS for 30 years. The apologies are for because he was on occasion known to complain about the ‘bloody trumpet players…’ NAY

SRI

This is the first of 2 pieces in the style of Steve Reich.  SRI is Sacro Romano Impero, the Holy Roman Empire, which of course was the First Reich.  Har bleedin’ har.  But I liked the title enough to keep it, because 3 stark capitals are a bit mechanical, as this sort of music is, and there’s also more than a nod towards Michael Nyman’s MGV (Musique a Grande Vitesse).  For full-blown orchestra, the piece almost lives up to Steve Reich’s proportions at 11 minutes long. There is also a reduced (in length, to 6 ½ minutes) version.

Waltz in the Woods
This was the second Steve Reich-inspired effort. SRI is driving, headlong music, this is more atmospheric, and tells a story. It would have been A Walk in the Woods but it’s in ¾ so the Waltz seemed appropriate. The woods were going to be tranquil English ones, but things take a decidedly spooky turn in the middle section. After a stream has appeared innocently then gathered pace and strength, we wander off into the trees, where twigs crackle, leaves rustle, owls hoot; we feel lost, it’s very Blair Witch, and the use of a haunting treble recorder doesn’t help.  But we return to the path, to glorious progress – from ca. 10 minutes to 13.40ish is some of the most joyful music I’ve written –  and the Walk ends dreamily. NAY

Both the above pieces were written in a frantic but flowing Steve Reich-inspired burst in December 2011.

ICESCAPES

A Polar Journey.

Pictures, events, storyline.

Despite initial intentions, there soon appeared very definite pictures in my head to portray in this piece, so that in the end it’s practically a journey.  Both the Arctic and Antarctic are represented under the heading of Polar, simply because the scenes shown don’t exist in both places (e.g. penguins and polar bears, the bears live north, the penguins south).

We open on a bare frozen wasteland, sounds emerge from the scene only slowly, as the picture thaws.  Various pre-borrowed motifs from the rest of the piece are heard, the ‘home’ key of F minor is hinted at.

We come to a glacier, vast, stretching out below us.  Wide, sweeping music, majestic, started by the brass but mostly concerning the strings.  An Arctic fox nips across the snow below.

Suddenly we reach a busy sea, vibrant, with leopard seals twisting and zooming through the water and white whales and giant squid in the depths.  The seascape becomes brighter, shafts of sunlight in the water reflect technicolour shoals of glittering fish – rather a more tropical scene than polar – and the sea swarms with marine life.  Finally the waters calm and darken, and we see an ice floe on which stand a family of four polar bears.

This is the most graphic section of the piece.  As the ice floes are melting and shrinking, the family, represented by the horn section, swim to a smaller floe.  Only three of them make it, and the water surrounding them becomes more dangerous, threatening both them and the floes.  Only two survive the increasingly breathless paddle to the next patch of ice, the water is swirling and angry now, and finally only one bear is left on a solitary floe.  The dark sea overtakes and consumes both with terrifying chords.

The sea and climate have won, and settle to heaving, brooding waters.  But we’re heading inland now, and creatures of the deep are heard below.  The music lightens and more marine animals are heard nearer and nearer the surface.

The tide crashes gloriously onto the rocky shore, and on land we see penguins shooting out of the water and waddling inland to their colonies.  As they huddle together a southern storm is on its way, snow drifting down in heavier and thicker blankets.  Soon the colony is engulfed by the ferocious blizzard.

As it passes, the skies clear, yet we are still in a remote landscape, and return to the opening key, and to the desolate panorama.  Snippets of earlier melodies return, forlorn bear calls are heard in the distance, the Arctic fox even makes a cheeky return, but the music is spreading out again, before a crevasse opens, and the white wilderness is all we are left with.

January 2016.

NAY

Jack’s Wheel

Nearly finished, a big, dark, contemporary piece based on this passage from Junky by William Burroughs.

     I looked around.  The bric-a-brac had gone.  The place looked like a chop suey joint.  There were black and red lacquered tables scattered around, black curtains covered the window.  A colored wheel had been painted on the ceiling with little squares and triangles of different colors giving a mosaic effect.

   “Jack did that,” Mary said, pointing to the wheel.  “You should have seen him.  He stretched a board between two ladders and lay down on it.  Paint kept dripping into his face.  He gets a kick out of doing things like that.  We get some frantic kicks out of that wheel when we’re high.  We lay on our backs and dig the wheel and pretty soon it begins to spin.  The longer you watch it, the faster it spins.”

NAY

ICO Anthem

Written for ICO, the orchestra mentioned above, see ICOlogy. Pleased that I managed to combine the national anthems of the 7 East European nations, but it never got played. Not much use to anyone else really.

The Red Shoe

Back outside in the sun, we were led up the path past about thirty sheds, where prisoners were kept.  We were shown into one, I think most of the rest aren’t used for anything now. Before we went in, the guide said ‘Now you’re going to see 58,000 shoes’.  Inside were cages, ten feet tall, all down the middle of the shed, and knee-high ones round the sides.  They were all crammed with old shoes, belonging to ex-prisoners, a stunning portrayal of the numbers involved.  But more than that, not just the numbers, you felt their personalities. Walking down the sides, I instinctively reached down and started touching some of the shoes through the mesh, and looking up, I saw that other visitors were doing the same.  I think I wanted to touch what the prisoners had touched, but then I suddenly stopped and drew back, I think because I couldn’t help them.  There was one red shoe among the mostly flaky grey ones, and this implied character; a character; what sort of person wore this shoe?

Suite in Compound Time
See above, Orchestral Woodwind Section. I wrote this piece at college when I could sort of play the piano a little bit.  There are 5 short movements, I think the whole piece is under 10 minutes.  They are in increasingly long compound times, and are 1. Rushing Water (3/8); 2. Gaudy Tune in A major (5/8); Tombs (7/4); On The Sea (9/8) and Ghosts and Chimes (11/4).  Tombs is spooky; On The Sea is breezy, it’s a sunny day.  Ghosts and Chimes dances off into spectral nothingness…

Minor Prelude
This is my version of the famous Bach First Prelude, the Ave Maria one, but in C minor not major. 

Through the Night
One of those riffy piano things I messed around with in my teens, and never knew what to do with.  There are lots of things like that in your teens.  When Sibelius arrived, I finished the piece, then turned it into a slushy string number. 

Pete’s Tune
Pete Radcliffe was a history teacher at our school.  He lived at the end of our road and was a keen guitarist.  I’d started playing, and he introduced me to some of his favourites, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola.  Pete didn’t take a guitar group at school but this piece was written very much with that in mind.  It’s in 6 parts: 4 lines are for students or early starters, and are fairly simple.  Then there’s a bass line for a more advanced member of the group, and a part for the teacher, Pete’s part I suppose, which fills in the chords.  A simple, catchy tune, with the sort of chords we were listening to at the time.  Pete invited the whole history class over one night and cooked a fantastic salmon fondue.  I kept the recipe for years. 

The Star

A Christmas Carol. Probably written in 1983, a gentle song for children’s chorus, 2 ‘angel’ soloists, piano, solo violin and glockenspiel. As this and Pete’s Tune (see above) were written at school that makes them two of the oldest pieces on the site. NAY, though I’ve just listened to it and it’s lovely. So if anyone has a school choir, a violin etc and a couple of angels, I’ll get the parts sorted. Here it is.

Wonderland

Adapted from one of the solo songs below, here’s a bright Xmas song for children’s choir and various accompanying instruments (see the Virtual Venue). The fading light at the end of a school day in December is a magic moment.

The Gypsies
This really is a random ensemble, of piccolo, 2 flugels, tambourine and wood block, triangle, vibraphone, guitar and bass guitar, and tin whistle.  The piece created the group.  It’s a round and round on guitar, which I always fancied to support a flugel tune.  1 flugel became 2, as a duet appeared.  Steve Reich has long been an influence, and I added a wood block or temple block as a constant, a sound I use a lot anyway.  Another effect I love is that of a triangle used as a drum kit high hat, by which I mean it’s mostly damped, but open on occasional notes. Then I put another favourite in: the delayed bass entry.   The bass guitar funks in before you expect it, but it’s delayed even so, and I love that.  Chris Hazell does it in 2 of his brilliant Brass Cats; I guess I learnt it from there.  Once I’d put these bases onto Sibelius, the music started to become a piece, with a direction and a feeling.  Music always needs form, and so a 2nd section evolved, or rather a contrasting tune over the same guitar chords.  This high woodwind tune, played on piccolo and tin whistle in a stretched tonality, gave the piece its character and title. This is minimalist stuff really, with the guitar chords playing from start to finish, but the layers make it more and more complex.  The syncopated vibraphone layer gave it a lilt, as the gypsy convoy jolts by. With the scene in place, it seemed right to add a short cadenza for solo gypsy guitar, and the whole piece is another Jamie’s Patrol (see Riffem and Blues, above).  The convoy pipes its way over the field, out of sight, and the piece ends like that, it just stops.  Extended tonality, a constant riff and wood block, a delayed bass entry, the fact that it’s a bass guitar in the first place, the triangle high hat effect, 2 flugels, the ending without preamble; no wonder I like this one. NAY

Arcadian Rhythm
I wrote a guitar piece which I was particularly pleased with several years ago, and was conceited enough to play it on the car stereo to the Bournemouth section as we drove down to Plymouth one day.  Kev Morgan liked it too, and we soon recorded it in his studio in his house, overdubbing the guitar tracks and adding a maraca beat, which was actually a pepperpot.  Without me knowing, Kev then transcribed it for trombone solo with flute and guitar accompaniment, and put it on his solo CD.  He did a fantastic job, seeing something bucolic in the piece and giving it this title.  It was a lovely surprise when the CD arrived in the post, I listened to it and heard this piece.  It’s still one of my favourites, as is the whole CD, called Off The Beaten Tracks.

Bach in Barbados

See/hear this in the Virtual Venue. Commissioned by and written for the very varied ensemble, Neoteric in April 2018. A Chorale set in a Caribbean nightclub.

One and Two are Three

 

In the order in which they were written, mostly in a flurry in December 2018.

Flying
I did a very small thing with a well known singer, and therefore assumed I could write him a song, which he’d welcome with open arms and immediately release as the proclamatory single from, and title track of his next album. It’s past naivety, it’s Barely Sentient Optimism. But the song’s too classical anyway, too long, and would probably suit some C&W singer in a nostalgic mood. NAY

BFF
This one and the next three were written for Jenny Plant, a talented singer/songwriter with a beautiful voice. They’re all good tunes, that’s my Thing, but mis-pitched for her style. Attractive pieces though, all for singer and piano, with occasional added orchestration. Like ‘Flying’, this talks about failed teenage love.

Air Dancing
Several projects can overlap, and this is a gentle cross between two brass band pieces (!), the chords from one and the idea for the other. Nothing to do with love and angst this time, this is a picture of travelling through a Spanish desert.

Stars in the Sky
Back to Love, and finally, a happy, catchy tune rejoicing in it.

Wonderland
Cliff Richard, Boney M, Benny Hill, Jimmy Osmond, The St. Winifred’s School Choir, The Spice Girls, Mr. Blobby, this is my Xmas No. 1. Happy, uplifting, very festive, incorporating Xmas fairground music, a rural Xmas story and a Victorian ending, what’s not to celebrate? Or this is my B.S.O. again…

Fantasia for Solo Trombone
This won the 2007 BTS composer’s competition, in the unaccompanied category.  Malcolm Arnold wrote 12 Fantasies for solo instruments, including all the brass; this is my homage to his trombone piece.  It is dedicated to Ian Bousfield, and published by Warwick Music.

The Celestial Bear
On a trip back from Moldova in 2013 I had a 4-hour wait at Bucharest Airport.  Instead of wasting it, I decided to do something useful, and before I knew it the opening phrase had appeared.  Things developed very naturally, and this entire piece came into being very quickly.  As it gathered momentum, I realised I was writing it with Byron Fulcher in mind (Principal Trombone of the Philharmonia) and his particular style of playing.  This helped, as did noticing the name of the Romanian beer I was drinking: Ursus. So now, along with the headlong through-composing, I had a personal direction and a title.  After a week of tweaking it at home, the piece was finished, but it was almost all completed, from start to finish, in that burst in a foreign airport. Strange where and when inspiration strikes. Even the randomly-chosen title works, as Byron’s playing is pretty muscular (though not furry) and heavenly. Also Warwick Music.

The Singing Minotaur
Davur Juul Magnussen made a fantastic solo CD, recorded in a sea cave at his home in the Faroes Islands. The echo effect is mesmerising, and I was drawn to write this piece for him and his cave. Without barlines, it’s a free-time exploration of the echo effect, with a back story of the Minoan minotaur in his labyrinth. Of course we don’t all have access to sea caves, so of course this piece works just as well in all echoey acoustics: churches, stairwells, most open spaces. Take your trombone outside. I probably wouldn’t try your local swimming baths though. Warwick Music.

The Lafosse Dozen*
Trombonists reading this will all know of Andre Lafosse, who wrote 2 study manuals in 1921.  In 1946 he wrote a third, and all 3 are regarded as excellent material on which to learn the entire range of trombone technique.  In the third book there is a set of 12 studies, often used as exam and audition pieces to this day.  I’ve written 12 new ones, very much based on the originals, for the 21st Century trombone student.  Each one deals with exactly the same aspect of technique as the Lafosse studies but is more difficult and harmonically modern.

Sight-Reading Studies
There are three books of these, with 24 tunes in each, one tune for every key. That’s 72 catchy little numbers, but watch out, they’re there to be sight-read, so keep your wits about you! Published by BrassWorks.

Elegy 4 Ellie J


Various Exercises

THE RECITAL
If I’ve had a Big Idea in the last few years, this is it. I noticed, when at student recitals, that too much of the repertoire was the same stuff I’d been playing at college 30 years ago. To gain the contrast they needed for their performance, students are still having to crowbar in the Serocki Sonatina (not that that isn’t a brilliant piece, of course), or the Casterede, the Defaye Dances, or the Hindemith Sonata.

So I decided to write an entire recital, one where the contrasts are already built-in, the different styles, moods etc, and I could tie the whole lot up musically, so that the pieces actually relate to each other, they’re in a balanced order, with recurring motifs, with a start that comes back at the end; the whole thing is like a prog rock album.

For full details of this new idea, copies of the music or the CD, please contact me

Elements
My other Big Idea. Also in the college recitals, students are often asked to show proficiency on ‘doubling’ instruments. This ticks boxes, but can take up a lot of space in a recital, when other boxes are there too, such as contemporary or baroque style, jazz, solo or with ensemble, and so on. So here is a piece that ticks the doubling box in one go, with four movements, one for each instrument. Therefore the first movement is for the trombone, the second for the euphonium, the third bass trumpet, and the fourth for alto. The title refers to the four ancient Greek elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, in that order.

 

Excerpt Suite for Bass Trombone
Three movements based on seven of the most famous Bass Trombone orchestral excerpts. ‘Seven Days’ is written around the solo in Mahler 7, and the bass line in the Haydn Creation. ‘Chorale, Pageant and Hop’ refers to Schumann 3 and The Miraculous Mandarin. And ‘The Cosmic Choir’ features Beethoven 9, the Janacek Sinfonietta, and the deep tune with the tuba at the end of Jupiter in The Planets.  My piece takes the excerpt material and uses it in many ways, so at times it’s like playing the excerpts inside out. I hope that students will benefit from playing this suite and that it’s an aid to playing the original excerpts. It’s published by Warwick Music.

Cereal Bars
This was written for Christian Jones, and is a foray into serialism, though I hope an attractive and relate-able one. Warwick Music.

 

Waltz and Skedaddle*
Written for a performance at an International Trombone Federation bash in 2006, for Katy Price and Christian Jones, shortly before they got married.  Based on their initials, and the imminent wedding, the theme takes its cue from the song about Casey Jones, the American pioneer.

 

22 New Bach Chorales
Actually there are 32 of them.  More updating (see Lafosse studies, above).  In 1961, David Fetter at the Eastman School in America transcribed 22 Bach Chorales for trombone quartet.  They’re invaluable material for ensemble training, focussing the attention on tuning, balance, phrasing, articulation, etc.  50 years later, I’ve written 32 of my own, in the same style, in every key, following Bach’s rules of 4-part harmony.  The reason for doing this was, I hope, similar to David Fetter’s: to have beautiful pieces of music for a trombone quartet to enjoy , and also to have them as an aide to ensemble training: quartet practice, musically and technically.  I see no reason why much more modern chords and harmonies shouldn’t be practiced and enjoyed, studied and relished as more traditional ones are.  Any contemporary chord can be just as beautiful as a straight F major, and poses the same tests of intonation, balance etc. The example below is number 23 of the 32, one of the first written. Published by Bones Apart.

Chiswell Galop
Opposite the Guildhall School there used to be a marvellous pub called the Chiswell Vaults.  It was a stony cellar, with candles stuffed in Moet bottles on the tables, and occasionally the Guildhall trombone choir would play in there.  It must have been deafening for the lunchtime city folk, but the pub seemed keen for us to do it, and paid us in fish; huge trays of seafood and pints of prawns.  But in 1986 the pub closed, we did our final gig down there, including this piece, which we played exaggeratedly several times that day.  Well, we were hungry. Published by Trombone Music.

Cold Tea, Toast and Marmalade
A bass trombone feature, started off by a bluesy riff.  Over the years many people have asked Why? about the title.  The words fit the riff, it was that way round.  I was a scraggy student living in a tiny room in a gloomy north London house at the time, I think that best explains the riff and the words.  The middle section is funkier, but still a bass trombone tune, for a while anyway.  Later on there’s a walking bass section before the music returns to its original dingy mood and fades on a question.  It is recorded and published by Bones Apart.

Kaleidoscope*
Written in Feb 2011, this is a visual trombone quartet.  I don’t think this has been done before, and I’m surprised, as the trombone is surely the most visually attractive of all instruments, the shiny, slidey thing at the back that changes shape when activated.  There are 3 short movements: 1. Flowers; 2. Oscillations, and 3. One Big Slide. 

Loopy Louise*
Loopy Louise is my wife Helen.  On a train journey to Manchester, she suggested I write something for just mouthpieces, so that’s what this is.  Or intended to be, anyway.  It works much better on the whole instrument, and is an encore piece, containing 10 ways to say Goodbye, in about 90 seconds.

Bones on Broadway
In summer 1989 I hadn’t much to do.  With no particular interest in going home, I sat in my Walthamstow flat and ate Indian food for 3 months.  In between mouthfuls I came up with this set of 12 trombone quartets. They were all a bit New Yorky, and a group I used to play in entertained the citizens at the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre; the title was obvious.  Published by Bones Apart.

Senoras
In February 2010, the brilliant trombone quartet Bones Apart commissioned me to write them a set of variations on the theme Spanish Ladies.  The initial idea was of a traditional Air Varie, where there are increasingly flashy versions of the tune, but I soon realised I could have much more fun than that.  Much more work too, but the piece would be better for it if I treated the melody like Enigma Variations, where Elgar takes snippets of his tune and uses them to create entirely different characters.  So the tune was chopped up, overturned, reversed etc, all common techniques, and we ended up with a series of 6 variations.  These are Polka, Habanera, Solonelle, Zortziko, a kind of sultry Danse Macabre which I’ve called Muerte Blues, and finally Rondo.  For those that don’t know -and I didn’t – a Zortziko is an authentic Spanish dance, mostly in the north, and is in 5/4 time, with the beats divided into 1 + 2 + 2. Published by Bones Apart.

Scenes from Sherwood
Again for Bones Apart, this was finished in November 2012 for the group’s ‘Legends’ programme.  It’s a telling of the Robin Hood story, in a series of scenes like a film.  Some of the characters differ from tradition: Robin Hood is a brigand, perhaps heroic but a hardened outlaw all the same; Maid Marion is an utterly alluring temptress, nothing like a damsel, and the Sheriff of Nottingham is a podgy adversary to Robin’s men.  There is a showdown, with glissando arrows whizzing between the trees of Sherwood Forest, victory stays in the hands of Robin and tradition, and the film ends in the forests murky depths. Published by Bones Apart.

Chant of the Plains*

National Anthems in the style of Lutoslawski*

Nature Boy*

 

Trombone Sextet*
Good title eh?  Written in 1984, we played it on the NYO Summer Course that year. A better piece than the title. 

Romeo and Juliet in Space*
Another piece that’s more rock than classical really.  In fact there is a version with drum kit, which is the version I always listen to.  And another of my weird titles.  It’s just because it’s lovey-dovey at the beginning and end, with what I then considered rather astral, floaty chords.  The middle is all driving rock for trombones. 

 

Trombone Octet*
A ditty really, written pre-college. 

From Princip to Poppies
This is a sad story all about WW1; is there any other kind?  It’s one of my more descriptive works in that musically, a story is told, with distinct events and a main character. Warwick Music.

 

Riffem and Blues
Expanding forces further, to 12 trombones, this piece has made it to performance, by the students of Trinity College, the Royal College, and the trombones of RAF Northolt so far.  I’d had the riff for ages and knew roughly what I was going to do with it.  The piece starts with a musical “Hello” on mixed mutes, then the riff starts in the distance and builds up around it, then it skips a beat and falls into a big blues, in the manner of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk.  The riff returns and fades, finally ending with the opening reversed, now as a musical “Goodbye”.  There’s a piece for brass band called Jamie’s Patrol, about an American Civil War band, which starts with the bugles and drums over the hill, approaching until the full cavalry sweeps past, then  strides off into the distance again.  Very atmospheric, and obviously an influence on Riffem and Blues.   It is published by Roger Harvey at Brass Works.

Fanfare and Calypso
And still further, for 18 trombones now, this was written for a big trombone gathering that took place in Devon a few years ago. I spent ages writing the parts out, then copying them and the score, then put the lot in the post.  They never arrived.  This was at a time when the Post Office was briefly taken over and given a new name, and so this piece’s other title is Ode to St. Consignia. Also published by Brass Works.

 

Little Suite for Trumpet and Trombone*
The first movement of this piece can be found bigged-up as the first movement of Factions.  Mike Allen (Co-Principal trumpet in the RPO) and I spent a month in 1988 touring round Germany with an American Company doing West Side Story.  It was brilliant fun at that age, and we couldn’t care less that some of the venues were pretty iffy.  In Munich we did the show in a circus, and you could smell the elephant shit while you were playing.  I’d already written most of this piece, and in Munich, Mike and I went round the back to the pungent animal enclosures, stood amongst the straw and finished it there.

 

Freeway
This is published by BrassWind, and the titles of the 4 movements are Canzon Cabriolet, Jag Rag, Lay-By Lullaby and Rondo a la Trucker.  But this is all bollocks.  The piece was written as Dutch Suite.  A quintet at college got a date at a function in the Savoy, at which the Dutch Prime Minister would be present.  I dashed off this piece and we all turned up at the hotel.  It never got played, one of the trumpet players forgot his music.  For the record, the original titles, before corporate sellability stepped in, (and these are no better, by the way) are Rembrandts Rondo, Windmill Rag, Tulip Serenade and Clog Danse (so spelled because it’s like Danse Macabre.  A bit).  I don’t think the Prime Minister would have liked it much.

Short and Suite for Brass*
A fairly fluent piece I wrote quickly in 1998.  It is short and sweet, in 3 movements: A Train Journey; By the Stream; Dance of the Cannon Stoker.  But like Freeway (which actually has yet another set of titles other than the above 2!), this piece sits equally happily as Wild West Suite, with the movements being Union Pacific, Teepee Song, and El Dorado. 

Mnemonyx
This was written for the brilliant brass quintet Onyx Brass in 2012, as a piece without notes.  This serves as what the group call a “chops break”: a piece of music they can put in a programme to perform while not blowing for 10 minutes or so.  I had a lot of fun writing this; like Senoras 2 years earlier it assembled itself very quickly in February (seems to be a good writing month for me).  I used every noisy but non-tonal technique I could think of, including stamping, lip popping, cheek squelching, face slapping, scat singing, ppppring like a horse, and so on.  Then there’s a section where all members of the group recite various mnemonics independently, as if in crowd scene.  Well-known phrases like ‘Thirty days hath September, April, June and November’ and lesser-known gems like ‘O hell, there’s a raccoon in my tent’ and ‘My Enormous Penguin Bounces Pretty High’.  The piece starts using the audience applause from the previous piece, and ends by inducing the audience to clap once more, thereby creating a feeling of continuity in the concert, and of the audience being part of it.  It’s worked very well so far.  Lots of fun.

 

Factions*
Faction, n. small united group within a larger one.  A three-movement work put together for the now-defunct London Brass Virtuosi.  The first movement is a widened version of the first movement of the Duet for Trumpet and Trombone, see above, and is called Opposing Cannon.  Then follows a flugel solo called The Dove.  This was tried out by a brass group in south London, and the flugel player complained about the fingering of a trill.  She certainly had a point, but soon afterwards another group played it, featuring the guy I’d had in mind when writing it, the brilliant jazz trumpeter Henry Lowther.  He just played it.  The last movement is a dynamic piece in 5/8 called Crossfire. 

6/8 The Sequel*
This is a 10-minute run around Gilbert and Sullivan.  All the big hits are here, dotted with quotes from even more.  Doing D’Oyly Carte Opera in the 1980s and early 90s, I once asked a friend to cover some shows for me.  On the phone, as he wrote in his diary, he had a mental blank when it came to spelling D’Oyly Carte.  After having a few goes, in the end he said “Oh fuck it, I’ll just put 6/8”. 

Caledonian Suite*
Too much to say about this piece.  So I’ll leave it that it’s a biggie, 3 movements, over 20 minutes; and that it’s a personal memento to a horn player friend who died in 1995.  There’s lots of him in it. 

ICOlogy*

 

 

I say Big Band but it’s a small one really.  The line-up is 3 saxes (alto, tenor, baritone – what a sound a bari sax makes!), 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, piano, bass, drums and guitar.  Amos Miller played in a group of that instrumentation and I wrote these first 3 pieces for his group, the fantastically-named Big Buzzard Boogie Band.

Speedbird*
I’d had this tune going on for years, scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere.  I showed it to Amos one time and said I’d never known what to do with it.  He suggested the Buzzards. Speedbird is a punchy piece, always driving forward, propelled by a ‘push’ in every bar.  The featured solo is on the guitar.  And it goes up a key all the time, which nearly led to it being called Upward Circles, which is of course what buzzards do.

Low Down and Dirty*
Quite the opposite of Speedbird, this is sleazy stuff.  It sets off at a hell of a lick but soon collapses into a dark, smoky riff.  The tenor sax takes a solo before being undertaken by the sultry baritone in its sultriest register.  The piece builds with a huge crescendo, and ends as low and dirty as possible, on the deepest note of the piano. 

Under the Baking Sun*
The third of my initial forays into this style and ensemble, this portrays a hot, shimmering day, probably in a desert, where you can see the heatwaves hovering over the sand.  The double bass is an unlikely soloist, accompanied by tinkling, drifting piano, up to its highest note this time.  The piece grasps reality for a while in the middle, in a sturdier section, though the heatwaves still float and throb, then the hot landscape returns, but dreamlike, like a mirage.  The piece ends in one of my favourite ways: it just stops. 

Uh-oh!*
The riff is straightforward enough, in 7/4, but the chords are dangerous.  The Uh-oh!, therefore, is not of the cuddly Teletubby variety, this is much more wary. 

 

Fanfare for Alan Carter*
Alan Carter was one of the stage managers for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, did that job for many orchestras since around the Middle Ages, and was one of the most popular and chirpy characters in the London music profession.  He was born in Covent Garden in 1938 when it was still a market, and therefore turned 70 on a Prom day in 2008.  I wrote this fanfare for his birthday but we couldn’t play it that day. 

KPO Fanfare*
The KPO is the Kensington Philharmonic Orchestra, they played this fanfare to prelude their 100th Anniversary concert in 1986. 

The next few items are, unless stated, all available for Orchestral Brass section and Percussion, Orchestral Woodwind section and Percussion, or Wind / Concert Band.

Little Suite in Compound Time*
See below, Piano Pieces. I wanted to expand this, and full Orchestral Wind Section with percussion seemed the right ensemble for it.  The five short movements make up a Suite of 14 minutes. Suitable for school ensembles and upwards.

The British Summer

Navarra

Tor

Walthamstow Fanfare

6845815

 

In 2018 I was asked to arrange a big Finale for the Jersey Chamber Orchestra’s WW1 Centenary celebrations, their Armistice Concert. A version of three hymms – Amazing Grace, I Vow to Thee my Country, and Jerusalem – for full orchestra, full choir, children’s choir, solo soprano and brass band! It was almost comical that as I was writing this, virtually each week a new element would be introduced. It started for orchestra, then I was told about the singers, the big soloist up the front was mentioned almost as an afterthought (!), and finally “…and we’re going to have the local brass band march on towards the end”. Give me strength. This was the first time I’d written anything for brass band, or to put it another way, it was the realisation of a 30-year-old sub-conscious aim of mine to write for that ensemble. I’d started, as so many brass players do, in a band, I’d scribbled a few dots when I was at college, so as soon as I started on the band contribution to the Jersey piece, it really felt like coming home. And has done ever since.

I do write slightly differently from the majority of composers for brass band, in that often, every instrument has their own individual part, i.e. the 2nd and 3rd cornets might be four separate parts, or certainly may divide at times. This splitting up of the band’s sections is to provide greater possibilities, of chord layouts, textures, balance and general interest.  I have been criticised for this, and I can see the other side, not least of which is the everpresent difficulty of getting everyone to every rehearsal. But I also like to give every player their own moments; instead of copying the player next to you for an entire piece, some individuality is very rewarding. I’m not trying to break down any doors, it just seems to me a natural use of a brass band’s great resources.

So here is my brass band output, in the order in which it was written, since that fortuitous commission.

Sketches of Shetland*
Start small, why don’t you? That would have been the sensible thing. But no, this is a five-movement, continuous twenty-minute piece depicting these beautiful islands. We first went there in 2008, and standing at the very top of Britain, at Hermaness, in freezing rain, watching the furious sea crashing on the rocks and the cliffs round the lighthouse, the gulls and terns whizzing around above the water, I knew this would be great for band. You could almost hear it. It took another ten years (see above) for me to get going on it, but that’s where it started. The five movements are 1. The View; 2. Boat Trip and Cave; Mousa by Midnight; 4. Hoswick Bay, and 5. Hermaness.  Five very different impressions of these spectacular, then adventure-filled, mystical, heroic and stormy islands. You must go. 

Navarra*
This was written for the Cory Composition Competition in 2019, and though it didn’t get anywhere, it has had its followers, and performances. Obviously a Spanish piece, there’s a section that evokes a Spanish guitar, with 6 instruments representing one open string each. It starts as a fiesta, with some flamenco clapping, then the guitar introduces the beautiful middle section, with Navarran desert heatwaves, before a flourish towards the end.

The British Summer*
It would help to describe this piece if I gave one of (!) its original titles, which was Fanfare, Theme, Ghosts and Hoedown. This is a melange of a piece, in those implied moods, written as a thankyou to Duncan Wilson and Kidlington Concert Brass for performing Sketches of Shetland, which I must say they did brilliantly. When I couldn’t settle on a title for the melange, I wondered if, when KCB played it, we should have a sort of raffle, where members of the audience could suggest a title, based on what they’d just heard. It was quite an up-and-down summer that year.

Tor*
There’s a glorious picture of Glastonbury Tor, and I’ve yet to find the photographer who took it. This piece is entirely based on this one incredible image, mostly bright orange, of the sunset mists across the fields, rooks rising from foreground trees, and the magnificent monument itself, just rising on its tor above the clouds. 

Walthamstow Fanfare*
I used to live in Walthamstow, and this is a short, light piece, the most traditionally-brass-band I’ve written, with a catchy theme and middle section. What makes it Walthamstow is the postcode bridge section, where during its brief four bars, 17 Es are heard on the flugel and glock. 

6845815*
Back to deadly serious for this piece, literally, in a contemporary work about the Hiroshima bomb. The title is the date and time of the explosion. The first half of the piece is utterly innocent, a busy early morning street scene building up. But the plane is heard overhead, and after that it’s pandemonium, musical Chaos. Not without form though, and I hope that the recurring sequence, on which layers of panic and destruction are mounted, serves to enable the listener to bear it. It’s devastating music, as it should be. 

Sea, Storm and Sunset*
After the intensity of 6845, a gentler piece, possibly for youth band at four and a half minutes.  A relaxing sailing trip hits a storm thrown at it by Steve Reich, before the boat sails off into the sunset with a warm flugel solo. This piece set sail after a single low flugel phrase on the telly reminded me what a gorgeous sound that is. While writing the flugel solo, I remembered that my gorgeous friend Amos Miller, force of nature at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire loves heavy jazz chords, so this piece is dedicated to him. It’s nice, this dedicating thing.     

Trombone Concerto
Published by Brass Works. My favourite Trombone Concerto has always been Edward Gregson’s, so of course that influenced me when I was writing this.  It was written in 1987 for the Final Recital of a fellow student and good friend of mine, Ed Tarrant, so given the 2 Eds, the first movement motif is the notes E and D. The second movement is Shostakovitchian in places, and has a cadenza which introduces third movement material.  23 years later, Robb Tooley (2nd trombone of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) performed the concerto twice, with the St. Aldhelm’s Orchestra in Dorset, conducted by Kevin Smith. It is dedicated to Peter Gane, who did so much to help my career and life when I was at college. Published by BrassWorks.

Trumpet Concerto*
This is for chamber orchestra, and was commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia for their brilliant 1st trumpet player, Nick Betts.  I’ve known Nick a long time and I know his distinctive playing very well.  So that made it easier and more satisfying to write for him, as I knew pretty much exactly how he would sound.  A few people have looked at the solo part and done the builder’s intake-of-breath thing, as there are plenty of notes.  I disagree; it’s not too busy at all, as Nick proved in the performances in 2008, and if I was going to go and hear a Trumpet Concerto, I’d want to hear a lot of trumpet in it.  I like giving clues in what I write, and the foundations of the melodic material for all 3 movements are all there in the first 4 bars.  Nick is such a stylish player, it was a joy to write just what I wanted to hear, and more importantly, what he wanted to play. This is dedicated, with apologies, to the late great Roger Brenner, who was 1st trombone in CLS for 30 years. The apologies are for because he was on occasion known to complain about the ‘bloody trumpet players…’SRI

This is the first of 2 pieces in the style of Steve Reich.  SRI is Sacro Romano Impero, the Holy Roman Empire, which of course was the First Reich.  Harbleedin’ har.  But I liked the title enough to keep it, because 3 stark capitals are a bit mechanical, as this sort of music is, and there’s also more than a nod towards Michael Nyman’s MGV (Musique a Grande Vitesse).  For full-blown orchestra, the piece almost lives up to Steve Reich’s proportions at 11 minutes long. There is also a reduced (in length, to 6 ½ minutes) version.

Waltz in the Woods*
Getting there, at over 16 minutes long, is the second Steve Reich-inspired effort. SRI is driving, headlong music, this is more atmospheric, and tells a story.  It would have been A Walk in the Woods but it’s in ¾ so the Waltz seemed appropriate.  The woods were going to be tranquil English ones, but things take a decidedly spooky turn in the middle section.  After a stream has appeared innocently then gathered pace and strength, we wander off into the trees, where twigs crackle, leaves rustle, owls hoot; we feel lost, it’s very Blair Witch, and the use of a haunting treble recorder doesn’t help.  But we return to the path, to glorious progress, and the Walk ends dreamily. 

Icescapes*

Jack’s Wheel

ICO Anthem*

The Red Shoe*
Back outside in the sun, we were led up the path past about thirty sheds, where prisoners were kept.  We were shown into one, I think most of the rest aren’t used for anything now. Before we went in, the guide said ‘Now you’re going to see 58,000 shoes’.  Inside were cages, ten feet tall, all down the middle of the shed, and knee-high ones round the sides.  They were all crammed with old shoes, belonging to ex-prisoners, a stunning portrayal of the numbers involved.  But more than that, not just the numbers, you felt their personalities. Walking down the sides, I instinctively reached down and started touching some of the shoes through the mesh, and looking up, I saw that other visitors were doing the same.  I think I wanted to touch what the prisoners had touched, but then I suddenly stopped and drew back, I think because I couldn’t help them.  There was one red shoe among the mostly flaky grey ones, and this implied character; a character; what sort of person wore this shoe?

Suite in Compound Time*
See above, Orchestral Woodwind Section. I wrote this piece at college when I could sort of play the piano a little bit.  There are 5 short movements, I think the whole piece is under 10 minutes.  They are in increasingly long compound times, and are 1. Rushing Water (3/8); 2. Gaudy Tune in A major (5/8); Tombs (7/4); On The Sea (9/8) and Ghosts and Chimes (11/4).  Tombs is spooky; On The Sea is breezy, it’s a sunny day.  Ghosts and Chimes dances off into spectral nothingness…

Minor Prelude*
This is my version of the famous Bach First Prelude, the Ave Maria one, but in C minor not major. 

Through the Night*
One of those riffy piano things I messed around with in my teens, and never knew what to do with.  There are lots of things like that in your teens.  When Sibelius arrived, I finished the piece, then turned it into a slushy string number. 

Pete’s Tune*
Pete Radcliffe was a history teacher at our school.  He lived at the end of our road and was a keen guitarist.  I’d started playing, and he introduced me to some of his favourites, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola.  Pete didn’t take a guitar group at school but this piece was written very much with that in mind.  It’s in 6 parts: 4 lines are for students or early starters, and are fairly simple.  Then there’s a bass line for a more advanced member of the group, and a part for the teacher, Pete’s part I suppose, which fills in the chords.  A simple, catchy tune, with the sort of chords we were listening to at the time.  Pete invited the whole history class over one night and cooked a fantastic salmon fondue.  I kept the recipe for years. 

The Star*
A Christmas Carol for children’s chorus, 2 soloists, piano, solo violin and glockenspiel. 

The Gypsies
This really is a random ensemble, of piccolo, 2 flugels, tambourine and wood block, triangle, vibraphone, guitar and bass guitar, and tin whistle.  The piece created the group.  It’s a round and round on guitar, which I always fancied to support a flugel tune.  1 flugel became 2, as a duet appeared.  Steve Reich has long been an influence, and I added a wood block or temple block as a constant, a sound I use a lot anyway.  Another effect I love is that of a triangle used as a drum kit high hat, by which I mean it’s mostly damped, but open on occasional notes. Then I put another favourite in: the delayed bass entry.   The bass guitar funks in before you expect it, but it’s delayed even so, and I love that.  Chris Hazell does it in 2 of his brilliant Brass Cats; I guess I learnt it from there.  Once I’d put these bases onto Sibelius, the music started to become a piece, with a direction and a feeling.  Music always needs form, and so a 2nd section evolved, or rather a contrasting tune over the same guitar chords.  This high woodwind tune, played on piccolo and tin whistle in a stretched tonality, gave the piece its character and title. This is minimalist stuff really, with the guitar chords playing from start to finish, but the layers make it more and more complex.  The syncopated vibraphone layer gave it a lilt, as the gypsy convoy jolts by. With the scene in place, it seemed right to add a short cadenza for solo gypsy guitar, and the whole piece is another Jamie’s Patrol (see Riffem and Blues, above).  The convoy pipes its way over the field, out of sight, and the piece ends like that, it just stops.  Extended tonality, a constant riff and wood block, a delayed bass entry, the fact that it’s a bass guitar in the first place, the triangle high hat effect, 2 flugels, the ending without preamble; no wonder I like this one. 

Arcadian Rhythm
I wrote a guitar piece which I was particularly pleased with several years ago, and was conceited enough to play it on the car stereo to the Bournemouth section as we drove down to Plymouth one day.  Kev Morgan liked it too, and we soon recorded it in his studio in his house, overdubbing the guitar tracks and adding a maraca beat, which was actually a pepperpot.  Without me knowing, Kev then transcribed it for trombone solo with flute and guitar accompaniment, and put it on his solo CD.  He did a fantastic job, seeing something bucolic in the piece and giving it this title.  It was a lovely surprise when the CD arrived in the post, I listened to it and heard this piece.  It’s still one of my favourites, as is the whole CD, called Off The Beaten Tracks.

Bach in Barbados

A Year and a Day*
My favourite guitarist Jo Satriani has a lovely finger-tapping piece on his 3rd album called Day at the Beach.  As so often happens, I was inspired to write a piece in similar vein.  When he and Steve Vai came to Tower Records many years ago to sign CDs, I was there in the queue, clutching an A4 envelope with my piece in it.  But I arrived too late, and they both shot off to Wembley Arena in a limo before I got to meet them.  I gave the envelope to one of their stage crew, told him what it was and asked him to give it to Mr. Satriani.  I think I know what he did with it.

One and Two are Three

In the order in which they were written, mostly in a flurry in December 2018.

Flying
I did a very small thing with a well known singer, and therefore assumed I could write him a song, which he’d welcome with open arms and immediately release as the proclamatory single from, and title track of his next album. It’s past naivety, it’s Barely Sentient Optimism. But the song’s too classical anyway, too long, and would probably suit some C&W singer in a nostalgic mood.

BFF
This one and the next three were written for Jenny Plant, a talented singer/songwriter with a beautiful voice. They’re all good tunes, that’s my Thing, but mis-pitched for her style. Attractive pieces though, all for singer and piano, with occasional added orchestration. Like ‘Flying’, this talks about failed teenage love.

Air Dancing
You have to bear in mind that several projects can overlap, and this is a gentle cross between two brass band pieces (!), the chords from one and the idea for the other. Nothing to do with love and angst this time, this is a picture of travelling through a Spanish desert.

Stars in the Sky
Back to Love, and finally, a happy, catchy tune rejoicing in it.

Wonderland
Cliff Richard, Boney M, Benny Hill, Jimmy Osmond, The St. Winifred’s School Choir, The Spice Girls, Mr. Blobby, this is my Xmas No. 1. Happy, uplifting, very festive, incorporating Xmas fairground music, a rural Xmas story and a Victorian ending, what’s not to celebrate? Or this is my B.S.O. again…

Fantasia for Solo Trombone
This won the 2007 BTS composer’s competition, in the unaccompanied category.  Malcolm Arnold wrote 12 Fantasies for solo instruments, including all the brass; this is my homage to his trombone piece.  It is dedicated to Ian Bousfield, and published by Warwick Music.

The Celestial Bear
On a trip back from Moldova in 2013 I had a 4-hour wait at Bucharest Airport.  Instead of wasting it, I decided to do something useful, and before I knew it the opening phrase had appeared.  Things developed very naturally, and this entire piece came into being very quickly.  As it gathered momentum, I realised I was writing it with Byron Fulcher in mind (Principal Trombone of the Philharmonia) and his particular style of playing.  This helped, as did noticing the name of the Romanian beer I was drinking: Ursus. So now, along with the headlong through-composing, I had a personal direction and a title.  After a week of tweaking it at home, the piece was finished, but it was almost all completed, from start to finish, in that burst in a foreign airport. Strange where and when inspiration strikes. Even the randomly-chosen title works, as Byron’s playing is pretty muscular (though not furry) and heavenly. Also Warwick Music.

The Singing Minotaur
Davur Juul Magnussen made a fantastic solo CD, recorded in a sea cave at his home in the Faroes Islands. The echo effect is mesmerising, and I was drawn to write this piece for him and his cave. Without barlines, it’s a free-time exploration of the echo effect, with a back story of the Minoan minotaur in his labyrinth. Of course we don’t all have access to sea caves, so of course this piece works just as well in all echoey acoustics: churches, stairwells, most open spaces. Take your trombone outside. I probably wouldn’t try your local swimming baths though. Warwick Music.

The Lafosse Dozen*
Trombonists reading this will all know of Andre Lafosse, who wrote 2 study manuals in 1921.  In 1946 he wrote a third, and all 3 are regarded as excellent material on which to learn the entire range of trombone technique.  In the third book there is a set of 12 studies, often used as exam and audition pieces to this day.  I’ve written 12 new ones, very much based on the originals, for the 21st Century trombone student.  Each one deals with exactly the same aspect of technique as the Lafosse studies but is more difficult and harmonically modern.

Sight-Reading Studies
There are three books of these, with 24 tunes in each, one tune for every key. That’s 72 catchy little numbers, but watch out, they’re there to be sight-read, so keep your wits about you! Published by BrassWorks.

Elegy 4 Ellie J


Various Exercises

THE RECITAL
If I’ve had a Big Idea in the last few years, this is it. I noticed, when at student recitals, that too much of the repertoire was the same stuff I’d been playing at college 30 years ago. To gain the contrast they needed for their performance, students are still having to crowbar in the Serocki Sonatina (not that that isn’t a brilliant piece, of course), or the Casterede, the Defaye Dances, or the Hindemith Sonata.

So I decided to write an entire recital, one where the contrasts are already built-in, the different styles, moods etc, and I could tie the whole lot up musically, so that the pieces actually relate to each other, they’re in a balanced order, with recurring motifs, with a start that comes back at the end; the whole thing is like a prog rock album.

For full details of this new idea, copies of the music or the CD, please contact me

Elements
My other Big Idea. Also in the college recitals, students are often asked to show proficiency on ‘doubling’ instruments. This ticks boxes, but can take up a lot of space in a recital, when other boxes are there too, such as contemporary or baroque style, jazz, solo or with ensemble, and so on. So here is a piece that ticks the doubling box in one go, with four movements, one for each instrument. Therefore the first movement is for the trombone, the second for the euphonium, the third bass trumpet, and the fourth for alto. The title refers to the four ancient Greek elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, in that order.

 

Excerpt Suite for Bass Trombone
Three movements based on seven of the most famous Bass Trombone orchestral excerpts. ‘Seven Days’ is written around the solo in Mahler 7, and the bass line in the Haydn Creation. ‘Chorale, Pageant and Hop’ refers to Schumann 3 and The Miraculous Mandarin. And ‘The Cosmic Choir’ features Beethoven 9, the Janacek Sinfonietta, and the deep tune with the tuba at the end of Jupiter in The Planets.  My piece takes the excerpt material and uses it in many ways, so at times it’s like playing the excerpts inside out. I hope that students will benefit from playing this suite and that it’s an aid to playing the original excerpts. It’s published by Warwick Music.

Cereal Bars
This was written for Christian Jones, and is a foray into serialism, though I hope an attractive and relate-able one. Warwick Music.

 

Waltz and Skedaddle*
Written for a performance at an International Trombone Federation bash in 2006, for Katy Price and Christian Jones, shortly before they got married.  Based on their initials, and the imminent wedding, the theme takes its cue from the song about Casey Jones, the American pioneer.

 

22 New Bach Chorales
Actually there are 32 of them.  More updating (see Lafosse studies, above).  In 1961, David Fetter at the Eastman School in America transcribed 22 Bach Chorales for trombone quartet.  They’re invaluable material for ensemble training, focussing the attention on tuning, balance, phrasing, articulation, etc.  50 years later, I’ve written 32 of my own, in the same style, in every key, following Bach’s rules of 4-part harmony.  The reason for doing this was, I hope, similar to David Fetter’s: to have beautiful pieces of music for a trombone quartet to enjoy , and also to have them as an aide to ensemble training: quartet practice, musically and technically.  I see no reason why much more modern chords and harmonies shouldn’t be practiced and enjoyed, studied and relished as more traditional ones are.  Any contemporary chord can be just as beautiful as a straight F major, and poses the same tests of intonation, balance etc. The example below is number 23 of the 32, one of the first written. Published by Bones Apart.

Chiswell Galop
Opposite the Guildhall School there used to be a marvellous pub called the Chiswell Vaults.  It was a stony cellar, with candles stuffed in Moet bottles on the tables, and occasionally the Guildhall trombone choir would play in there.  It must have been deafening for the lunchtime city folk, but the pub seemed keen for us to do it, and paid us in fish; huge trays of seafood and pints of prawns.  But in 1986 the pub closed, we did our final gig down there, including this piece, which we played exaggeratedly several times that day.  Well, we were hungry. Published by Trombone Music.

Cold Tea, Toast and Marmalade
A bass trombone feature, started off by a bluesy riff.  Over the years many people have asked Why? about the title.  The words fit the riff, it was that way round.  I was a scraggy student living in a tiny room in a gloomy north London house at the time, I think that best explains the riff and the words.  The middle section is funkier, but still a bass trombone tune, for a while anyway.  Later on there’s a walking bass section before the music returns to its original dingy mood and fades on a question.  It is recorded and published by Bones Apart.

Kaleidoscope*
Written in Feb 2011, this is a visual trombone quartet.  I don’t think this has been done before, and I’m surprised, as the trombone is surely the most visually attractive of all instruments, the shiny, slidey thing at the back that changes shape when activated.  There are 3 short movements: 1. Flowers; 2. Oscillations, and 3. One Big Slide. 

Loopy Louise*
Loopy Louise is my wife Helen.  On a train journey to Manchester, she suggested I write something for just mouthpieces, so that’s what this is.  Or intended to be, anyway.  It works much better on the whole instrument, and is an encore piece, containing 10 ways to say Goodbye, in about 90 seconds.

Bones on Broadway
In summer 1989 I hadn’t much to do.  With no particular interest in going home, I sat in my Walthamstow flat and ate Indian food for 3 months.  In between mouthfuls I came up with this set of 12 trombone quartets. They were all a bit New Yorky, and a group I used to play in entertained the citizens at the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre; the title was obvious.  Published by Bones Apart.

Senoras
In February 2010, the brilliant trombone quartet Bones Apart commissioned me to write them a set of variations on the theme Spanish Ladies.  The initial idea was of a traditional Air Varie, where there are increasingly flashy versions of the tune, but I soon realised I could have much more fun than that.  Much more work too, but the piece would be better for it if I treated the melody like Enigma Variations, where Elgar takes snippets of his tune and uses them to create entirely different characters.  So the tune was chopped up, overturned, reversed etc, all common techniques, and we ended up with a series of 6 variations.  These are Polka, Habanera, Solonelle, Zortziko, a kind of sultry Danse Macabre which I’ve called Muerte Blues, and finally Rondo.  For those that don’t know -and I didn’t – a Zortziko is an authentic Spanish dance, mostly in the north, and is in 5/4 time, with the beats divided into 1 + 2 + 2. Published by Bones Apart.

Scenes from Sherwood
Again for Bones Apart, this was finished in November 2012 for the group’s ‘Legends’ programme.  It’s a telling of the Robin Hood story, in a series of scenes like a film.  Some of the characters differ from tradition: Robin Hood is a brigand, perhaps heroic but a hardened outlaw all the same; Maid Marion is an utterly alluring temptress, nothing like a damsel, and the Sheriff of Nottingham is a podgy adversary to Robin’s men.  There is a showdown, with glissando arrows whizzing between the trees of Sherwood Forest, victory stays in the hands of Robin and tradition, and the film ends in the forests murky depths. Published by Bones Apart.

Chant of the Plains*

National Anthems in the style of Lutoslawski*

Nature Boy*

 

Trombone Sextet*
Good title eh?  Written in 1984, we played it on the NYO Summer Course that year. A better piece than the title. 

Romeo and Juliet in Space*
Another piece that’s more rock than classical really.  In fact there is a version with drum kit, which is the version I always listen to.  And another of my weird titles.  It’s just because it’s lovey-dovey at the beginning and end, with what I then considered rather astral, floaty chords.  The middle is all driving rock for trombones. 

 

Trombone Octet*
A ditty really, written pre-college.  NAY

From Princip to Poppies
This is a sad story all about WW1; is there any other kind?  It’s one of my more descriptive works in that musically, a story is told, with distinct events and a main character. Warwick Music.

Riffem and Blues
Expanding forces further, to 12 trombones, this piece has made it to performance, by the students of Trinity College, the Royal College, and the trombones of RAF Northolt so far.  I’d had the riff for ages and knew roughly what I was going to do with it.  The piece starts with a musical “Hello” on mixed mutes, then the riff starts in the distance and builds up around it, then it skips a beat and falls into a big blues, in the manner of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk.  The riff returns and fades, finally ending with the opening reversed, now as a musical “Goodbye”.  There’s a piece for brass band called Jamie’s Patrol, about an American Civil War band, which starts with the bugles and drums over the hill, approaching until the full cavalry sweeps past, then  strides off into the distance again.  Very atmospheric, and obviously an influence on Riffem and Blues.   It is published by Roger Harvey at Brass Works.

Fanfare and Calypso
And still further, for 18 trombones now, this was written for a big trombone gathering that took place in Devon a few years ago. I spent ages writing the parts out, then copying them and the score, then put the lot in the post.  They never arrived.  This was at a time when the Post Office was briefly taken over and given a new name, and so this piece’s other title is Ode to St. Consignia. Also published by Brass Works.

 

Little Suite for Trumpet and Trombone*
The first movement of this piece can be found bigged-up as the first movement of Factions.  Mike Allen (Co-Principal trumpet in the RPO) and I spent a month in 1988 touring round Germany with an American Company doing West Side Story.  It was brilliant fun at that age, and we couldn’t care less that some of the venues were pretty iffy.  In Munich we did the show in a circus, and you could smell the elephant shit while you were playing.  I’d already written most of this piece, and in Munich, Mike and I went round the back to the pungent animal enclosures, stood amongst the straw and finished it there.

 

Freeway
This is published by BrassWind, and the titles of the 4 movements are Canzon Cabriolet, Jag Rag, Lay-By Lullaby and Rondo a la Trucker.  But this is all bollocks.  The piece was written as Dutch Suite.  A quintet at college got a date at a function in the Savoy, at which the Dutch Prime Minister would be present.  I dashed off this piece and we all turned up at the hotel.  It never got played, one of the trumpet players forgot his music.  For the record, the original titles, before corporate sellability stepped in, (and these are no better, by the way) are Rembrandts Rondo, Windmill Rag, Tulip Serenade and Clog Danse (so spelled because it’s like Danse Macabre.  A bit).  I don’t think the Prime Minister would have liked it much.

Short and Suite for Brass*
A fairly fluent piece I wrote quickly in 1998.  It is short and sweet, in 3 movements: A Train Journey; By the Stream; Dance of the Cannon Stoker.  But like Freeway (which actually has yet another set of titles other than the above 2!), this piece sits equally happily as Wild West Suite, with the movements being Union Pacific, Teepee Song, and El Dorado. NAY

Mnemonyx
This was written for the brilliant brass quintet Onyx Brass in 2012, as a piece without notes.  This serves as what the group call a “chops break”: a piece of music they can put in a programme to perform while not blowing for 10 minutes or so.  I had a lot of fun writing this; like Senoras 2 years earlier it assembled itself very quickly in February (seems to be a good writing month for me).  I used every noisy but non-tonal technique I could think of, including stamping, lip popping, cheek squelching, face slapping, scat singing, ppppring like a horse, and so on.  Then there’s a section where all members of the group recite various mnemonics independently, as if in crowd scene.  Well-known phrases like ‘Thirty days hath September, April, June and November’ and lesser-known gems like ‘O hell, there’s a raccoon in my tent’ and ‘My Enormous Penguin Bounces Pretty High’.  The piece starts using the audience applause from the previous piece, and ends by inducing the audience to clap once more, thereby creating a feeling of continuity in the concert, and of the audience being part of it.  It’s worked very well so far.  Lots of fun. Published by Onyx Brass.

Factions*
Faction, n. small united group within a larger one.  A three-movement work put together for the now-defunct London Brass Virtuosi.  The first movement is a widened version of the first movement of the Duet for Trumpet and Trombone, see above, and is called Opposing Cannon.  Then follows a flugel solo called The Dove.  This was tried out by a brass group in south London, and the flugel player complained about the fingering of a trill.  She certainly had a point, but soon afterwards another group played it, featuring the guy I’d had in mind when writing it, the brilliant jazz trumpeter Henry Lowther.  He just played it.  The last movement is a dynamic piece in 5/8 called Crossfire. NAY

6/8 The Sequel*
This is a 10-minute run around Gilbert and Sullivan.  All the big hits are here, dotted with quotes from even more.  Doing D’Oyly Carte Opera in the 1980s and early 90s, I once asked a friend to cover some shows for me.  On the phone, as he wrote in his diary, he had a mental blank when it came to spelling D’Oyly Carte.  After having a few goes, in the end he said “Oh fuck it, I’ll just put 6/8”. 

Caledonian Suite*
Too much to say about this piece.  So I’ll leave it that it’s a biggie, 3 movements, over 20 minutes; and that it’s a personal memento to a horn player friend who died in 1995.  There’s lots of him in it. NAY

ICOlogy*

I say Big Band but it’s a small one really.  The line-up is 3 saxes (alto, tenor, baritone – what a sound a bari sax makes!), 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, piano, bass, drums and guitar.  Amos Miller played in a group of that instrumentation and I wrote these first 3 pieces for his group, the fantastically-named Big Buzzard Boogie Band.

Speedbird*
I’d had this tune going on for years, scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere.  I showed it to Amos one time and said I’d never known what to do with it.  He suggested the Buzzards. Speedbird is a punchy piece, always driving forward, propelled by a ‘push’ in every bar.  The featured solo is on the guitar.  And it goes up a key all the time, which nearly led to it being called Upward Circles, which is of course what buzzards do.

Low Down and Dirty*
Quite the opposite of Speedbird, this is sleazy stuff.  It sets off at a hell of a lick but soon collapses into a dark, smoky riff.  The tenor sax takes a solo before being undertaken by the sultry baritone in its sultriest register.  The piece builds with a huge crescendo, and ends as low and dirty as possible, on the deepest note of the piano. 

Under the Baking Sun*
The third of my initial forays into this style and ensemble, this portrays a hot, shimmering day, probably in a desert, where you can see the heatwaves hovering over the sand.  The double bass is an unlikely soloist, accompanied by tinkling, drifting piano, up to its highest note this time.  The piece grasps reality for a while in the middle, in a sturdier section, though the heatwaves still float and throb, then the hot landscape returns, but dreamlike, like a mirage.  The piece ends in one of my favourite ways: it just stops. 

Uh-oh!*
The riff is straightforward enough, in 7/4, but the chords are dangerous.  The Uh-oh!, therefore, is not of the cuddly Teletubby variety, this is much more wary. NAY

Fanfare for Alan Carter*
Alan Carter was one of the stage managers for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, did that job for many orchestras since around the Middle Ages, and was one of the most popular and chirpy characters in the London music profession.  He was born in Covent Garden in 1938 when it was still a market, and therefore turned 70 on a Prom day in 2008.  I wrote this fanfare for his birthday but we couldn’t play it that day.  NAY

KPO Fanfare*
The KPO is the Kensington Philharmonic Orchestra, they played this fanfare to prelude their 100th Anniversary concert in 1986. 

The next few items are, unless stated, all available for Orchestral Brass section and Percussion, Orchestral Woodwind section and Percussion, or Wind / Concert Band.

Little Suite in Compound Time*
See below, Piano Pieces. I wanted to expand this, and full Orchestral Wind Section with percussion seemed the right ensemble for it.  The five short movements make up a Suite of 14 minutes. Suitable for school ensembles and upwards.

The British Summer (NAY)

Navarra (NAY)

Tor (NAY)

Walthamstow Fanfare (NAY)

6845815

In 2018 I was asked to arrange a big Finale for the Jersey Chamber Orchestra’s WW1 Centenary celebrations, their Armistice Concert. A version of three hymms – Amazing Grace, I Vow to Thee my Country, and Jerusalem – for full orchestra, full choir, children’s choir, solo soprano and brass band! It was almost comical that as I was writing this, virtually each week a new element would be introduced. It started for orchestra, then I was told about the singers, the big soloist up the front was mentioned almost as an afterthought (!), and finally “…and we’re going to have the local brass band march on towards the end”. Give me strength. This was the first time I’d written anything for brass band, or to put it another way, it was the realisation of a 30-year-old sub-conscious aim of mine to write for that ensemble. I’d started, as so many brass players do, in a band, I’d scribbled a few dots when I was at college, so as soon as I started on the band contribution to the Jersey piece, it really felt like coming home. And has done ever since.

I do write slightly differently from the majority of composers for brass band, in that often, every instrument has their own individual part, i.e. the 2nd and 3rd cornets might be four separate parts, or certainly may divide at times. This splitting up of the band’s sections is to provide greater possibilities, of chord layouts, textures, balance and general interest.  I have been criticised for this, and I can see the other side, not least of which is the everpresent difficulty of getting everyone to every rehearsal. But I also like to give every player their own moments; instead of copying the player next to you for an entire piece, some individuality is very rewarding. I’m not trying to break down any doors, it just seems to me a natural use of a brass band’s great resources.

So here is my brass band output, in the order in which it was written, since that fortuitous commission.

Sketches of Shetland*
Start small, why don’t you? That would have been the sensible thing. But no, this is a five-movement, continuous twenty-minute piece depicting these beautiful islands. We first went there in 2008, and standing at the very top of Britain, at Hermaness, in freezing rain, watching the furious sea crashing on the rocks and the cliffs round the lighthouse, the gulls and terns whizzing around above the water, I knew this would be great for band. You could almost hear it. It took another ten years (see above) for me to get going on it, but that’s where it started. The five movements are 1. The View; 2. Boat Trip and Cave; Mousa by Midnight; 4. Hoswick Bay, and 5. Hermaness.  Five very different impressions of these spectacular, then adventure-filled, mystical, heroic and stormy islands. You must go. 

Navarra*
This was written for the Cory Composition Competition in 2019, and though it didn’t get anywhere, it has had its followers, and performances. Obviously a Spanish piece, there’s a section that evokes a Spanish guitar, with 6 instruments representing one open string each. It starts as a fiesta, with some flamenco clapping, then the guitar introduces the beautiful middle section, with Navarran desert heatwaves, before a flourish towards the end.

The British Summer*
It would help to describe this piece if I gave one of (!) its original titles, which was Fanfare, Theme, Ghosts and Hoedown. This is a melange of a piece, in those implied moods, written as a thankyou to Duncan Wilson and Kidlington Concert Brass for performing Sketches of Shetland, which I must say they did brilliantly. When I couldn’t settle on a title for the melange, I wondered if, when KCB played it, we should have a sort of raffle, where members of the audience could suggest a title, based on what they’d just heard. It was quite an up-and-down summer that year.

Tor*
There’s a glorious picture of Glastonbury Tor, and I’ve yet to find the photographer who took it. This piece is entirely based on this one incredible image, mostly bright orange, of the sunset mists across the fields, rooks rising from foreground trees, and the magnificent monument itself, just rising on its tor above the clouds. 

Walthamstow Fanfare*
I used to live in Walthamstow, and this is a short, light piece, the most traditionally-brass-band I’ve written, with a catchy theme and middle section. What makes it Walthamstow is the postcode bridge section, where during its brief four bars, 17 Es are heard on the flugel and glock. 

6845815*
Back to deadly serious for this piece, literally, in a contemporary work about the Hiroshima bomb. The title is the date and time of the explosion. The first half of the piece is utterly innocent, a busy early morning street scene building up. But the plane is heard overhead, and after that it’s pandemonium, musical Chaos. Not without form though, and I hope that the recurring sequence, on which layers of panic and destruction are mounted, serves to enable the listener to bear it. It’s devastating music, as it should be. 

Sea, Storm and Sunset*
After the intensity of 6845, a gentler piece, possibly for youth band at four and a half minutes.  A relaxing sailing trip hits a storm thrown at it by Steve Reich, before the boat sails off into the sunset with a warm flugel solo. This piece set sail after a single low flugel phrase on the telly reminded me what a gorgeous sound that is. While writing the flugel solo, I remembered that my gorgeous friend Amos Miller, force of nature at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire loves heavy jazz chords, so this piece is dedicated to him. It’s nice, this dedicating thing.     

Trombone Concerto
Published by Brass Works. My favourite Trombone Concerto has always been Edward Gregson’s, so of course that influenced me when I was writing this.  It was written in 1987 for the Final Recital of a fellow student and good friend of mine, Ed Tarrant, so given the 2 Eds, the first movement motif is the notes E and D. The second movement is Shostakovitchian in places, and has a cadenza which introduces third movement material.  23 years later, Robb Tooley (2nd trombone of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) performed the concerto twice, with the St. Aldhelm’s Orchestra in Dorset, conducted by Kevin Smith. It is dedicated to Peter Gane, who did so much to help my career and life when I was at college. Published by BrassWorks.

Trumpet Concerto*
This is for chamber orchestra, and was commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia for their brilliant 1st trumpet player, Nick Betts.  I’ve known Nick a long time and I know his distinctive playing very well.  So that made it easier and more satisfying to write for him, as I knew pretty much exactly how he would sound.  A few people have looked at the solo part and done the builder’s intake-of-breath thing, as there are plenty of notes.  I disagree; it’s not too busy at all, as Nick proved in the performances in 2008, and if I was going to go and hear a Trumpet Concerto, I’d want to hear a lot of trumpet in it.  I like giving clues in what I write, and the foundations of the melodic material for all 3 movements are all there in the first 4 bars.  Nick is such a stylish player, it was a joy to write just what I wanted to hear, and more importantly, what he wanted to play. This is dedicated, with apologies, to the late great Roger Brenner, who was 1st trombone in CLS for 30 years. The apologies are for because he was on occasion known to complain about the ‘bloody trumpet players…’

SRI

This is the first of 2 pieces in the style of Steve Reich.  SRI is Sacro Romano Impero, the Holy Roman Empire, which of course was the First Reich.  Harbleedin’ har.  But I liked the title enough to keep it, because 3 stark capitals are a bit mechanical, as this sort of music is, and there’s also more than a nod towards Michael Nyman’s MGV (Musique a Grande Vitesse).  For full-blown orchestra, the piece almost lives up to Steve Reich’s proportions at 11 minutes long. There is also a reduced (in length, to 6 ½ minutes) version.

Waltz in the Woods*
Getting there, at over 16 minutes long, is the second Steve Reich-inspired effort. SRI is driving, headlong music, this is more atmospheric, and tells a story.  It would have been A Walk in the Woods but it’s in ¾ so the Waltz seemed appropriate.  The woods were going to be tranquil English ones, but things take a decidedly spooky turn in the middle section.  After a stream has appeared innocently then gathered pace and strength, we wander off into the trees, where twigs crackle, leaves rustle, owls hoot; we feel lost, it’s very Blair Witch, and the use of a haunting treble recorder doesn’t help.  But we return to the path, to glorious progress, and the Walk ends dreamily. NAY

Icescapes* NAY

Jack’s Wheel NAY

ICO Anthem* NAY

The Red Shoe*
Back outside in the sun, we were led up the path past about thirty sheds, where prisoners were kept.  We were shown into one, I think most of the rest aren’t used for anything now. Before we went in, the guide said ‘Now you’re going to see 58,000 shoes’.  Inside were cages, ten feet tall, all down the middle of the shed, and knee-high ones round the sides.  They were all crammed with old shoes, belonging to ex-prisoners, a stunning portrayal of the numbers involved.  But more than that, not just the numbers, you felt their personalities. Walking down the sides, I instinctively reached down and started touching some of the shoes through the mesh, and looking up, I saw that other visitors were doing the same.  I think I wanted to touch what the prisoners had touched, but then I suddenly stopped and drew back, I think because I couldn’t help them.  There was one red shoe among the mostly flaky grey ones, and this implied character; a character; what sort of person wore this shoe?

Suite in Compound Time*
See above, Orchestral Woodwind Section. I wrote this piece at college when I could sort of play the piano a little bit.  There are 5 short movements, I think the whole piece is under 10 minutes.  They are in increasingly long compound times, and are 1. Rushing Water (3/8); 2. Gaudy Tune in A major (5/8); Tombs (7/4); On The Sea (9/8) and Ghosts and Chimes (11/4).  Tombs is spooky; On The Sea is breezy, it’s a sunny day.  Ghosts and Chimes dances off into spectral nothingness…

Minor Prelude*
This is my version of the famous Bach First Prelude, the Ave Maria one, but in C minor not major. 

Through the Night*
One of those riffy piano things I messed around with in my teens, and never knew what to do with.  There are lots of things like that in your teens.  When Sibelius arrived, I finished the piece, then turned it into a slushy string number. 

Pete’s Tune*
Pete Radcliffe was a history teacher at our school.  He lived at the end of our road and was a keen guitarist.  I’d started playing, and he introduced me to some of his favourites, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola.  Pete didn’t take a guitar group at school but this piece was written very much with that in mind.  It’s in 6 parts: 4 lines are for students or early starters, and are fairly simple.  Then there’s a bass line for a more advanced member of the group, and a part for the teacher, Pete’s part I suppose, which fills in the chords.  A simple, catchy tune, with the sort of chords we were listening to at the time.  Pete invited the whole history class over one night and cooked a fantastic salmon fondue.  I kept the recipe for years. 

The Star*
A Christmas Carol for children’s chorus, 2 soloists, piano, solo violin and glockenspiel. NAY

The Gypsies
This really is a random ensemble, of piccolo, 2 flugels, tambourine and wood block, triangle, vibraphone, guitar and bass guitar, and tin whistle.  The piece created the group.  It’s a round and round on guitar, which I always fancied to support a flugel tune.  1 flugel became 2, as a duet appeared.  Steve Reich has long been an influence, and I added a wood block or temple block as a constant, a sound I use a lot anyway.  Another effect I love is that of a triangle used as a drum kit high hat, by which I mean it’s mostly damped, but open on occasional notes. Then I put another favourite in: the delayed bass entry.   The bass guitar funks in before you expect it, but it’s delayed even so, and I love that.  Chris Hazell does it in 2 of his brilliant Brass Cats; I guess I learnt it from there.  Once I’d put these bases onto Sibelius, the music started to become a piece, with a direction and a feeling.  Music always needs form, and so a 2nd section evolved, or rather a contrasting tune over the same guitar chords.  This high woodwind tune, played on piccolo and tin whistle in a stretched tonality, gave the piece its character and title. This is minimalist stuff really, with the guitar chords playing from start to finish, but the layers make it more and more complex.  The syncopated vibraphone layer gave it a lilt, as the gypsy convoy jolts by. With the scene in place, it seemed right to add a short cadenza for solo gypsy guitar, and the whole piece is another Jamie’s Patrol (see Riffem and Blues, above).  The convoy pipes its way over the field, out of sight, and the piece ends like that, it just stops.  Extended tonality, a constant riff and wood block, a delayed bass entry, the fact that it’s a bass guitar in the first place, the triangle high hat effect, 2 flugels, the ending without preamble; no wonder I like this one. 

Arcadian Rhythm
I wrote a guitar piece which I was particularly pleased with several years ago, and was conceited enough to play it on the car stereo to the Bournemouth section as we drove down to Plymouth one day.  Kev Morgan liked it too, and we soon recorded it in his studio in his house, overdubbing the guitar tracks and adding a maraca beat, which was actually a pepperpot.  Without me knowing, Kev then transcribed it for trombone solo with flute and guitar accompaniment, and put it on his solo CD.  He did a fantastic job, seeing something bucolic in the piece and giving it this title.  It was a lovely surprise when the CD arrived in the post, I listened to it and heard this piece.  It’s still one of my favourites, as is the whole CD, called Off The Beaten Tracks. NAY

Bach in Barbados

A Year and a Day*
My favourite guitarist Jo Satriani has a lovely finger-tapping piece on his 3rd album called Day at the Beach.  As so often happens, I was inspired to write a piece in similar vein.  When he and Steve Vai came to Tower Records many years ago to sign CDs, I was there in the queue, clutching an A4 envelope with my piece in it.  But I arrived too late, and they both shot off to Wembley Arena in a limo before I got to meet them.  I gave the envelope to one of their stage crew, told him what it was and asked him to give it to Mr. Satriani.  I think I know what he did with it.

One and Two are Three NAY

In the order in which they were written, mostly in a flurry in December 2018.

Flying
I did a very small thing with a well known singer, and therefore assumed I could write him a song, which he’d welcome with open arms and immediately release as the proclamatory single from, and title track of his next album. It’s past naivety, it’s Barely Sentient Optimism. But the song’s too classical anyway, too long, and would probably suit some C&W singer in a nostalgic mood. NAY

BFF
This one and the next three were written for Jenny Plant, a talented singer/songwriter with a beautiful voice. They’re all good tunes, that’s my Thing, but mis-pitched for her style. Attractive pieces though, all for singer and piano, with occasional added orchestration. Like ‘Flying’, this talks about failed teenage love.

Air Dancing
You have to bear in mind that several projects can overlap, and this is a gentle cross between two brass band pieces (!), the chords from one and the idea for the other. Nothing to do with love and angst this time, this is a picture of travelling through a Spanish desert.

Stars in the Sky
Back to Love, and finally, a happy, catchy tune rejoicing in it.

Wonderland
Cliff Richard, Boney M, Benny Hill, Jimmy Osmond, The St. Winifred’s School Choir, The Spice Girls, Mr. Blobby, this is my Xmas No. 1. Happy, uplifting, very festive, incorporating Xmas fairground music, a rural Xmas story and a Victorian ending, what’s not to celebrate? Or this is my B.S.O. again…

Arrangements

Two Movements from Children’s Corner
‘The Little Shepherd’ and ‘Golliwog’s Cakewalk’ from Debussy’s popular Piano Suite ‘Children’s Corner’, arranged for Trombone (and Tin Whistle!) and Piano. 

Czardas

For two trombones and piano, to be precise. The famous solo violin piece starts on tenor trombone but switches to alto halfway through. Not for the faint hearted!

Beatles 4 Bones
This’ll never get played in public because of copyright, but it’s a reasonable stab at 4 of the Fab 4’s tunes, for 4 trombones:  With A Little Help From My Friends, Ob-La-Di, Yesterday and Get Back. 

Czardas
The famous run-around gypsy violin extravaganza, this time for four trombones. 

Deep River
How naive is this?  I did this piece for Kev Morgan’s birthday in January many years ago.  He had a trombone quartet going at the time and I suppose I thought that he might want an arrangement of something, so I arranged him something.  Surely a bottle of wine would have been better. He has published it though, at Trombone Music.

Flintstones in the style of Bruckner
It had to be done. 

Londonderry Air, x 2
It’s x2 because there are 2 versions, one in D flat and one in A flat. The reason, and the problem, is the shape of this very famous tune itself. Everyone knows the big high note which is the high point of the melody.  For trombone quartet, the arrangement sits nicely in D flat, but then the climax would have whoever’s got the tune sailing off up to a very high F, and nobody wants to hear that.  Not the way I play it, anyway.  So that phrase has to go down an octave, which loses the momentum a bit.  So an only slightly more congested version in A flat leaves the tune rising more satisfactorily only as far as a much more playable high C.  It’s such a gorgeous tune, both versions work fine. Trombone Music publications.

A Policeman’s Lot
One of the catchiest tunes I know, from The Pirates of Penzance.  Published by Trombone Music.

Bones in the Barber Shop

A selection of four favourite Barber Shop Quartets arranged for trombones: Tiptoe thru’ the Tulips With Me; Yes Sir, that’s my Baby; My Mammy, and Me and My Shadow.

Faure Pavane

Deck the Halls
Festive arrangement with a dramatic minor-key section in the middle.  I call this the John Iveson treatment , which is a little unfair as I’m only referring to his hugely popular arrangement of Frere Jacques. Published by Onyx.

Dwarf’s Suite
Kev Morgan, Principal Trombone in the Bournemouth SO, originally came up with this Suite; his version is for Trombone Quartet, which I highly recommend.  I nicked it and turned it into a Brass Quintet piece, then got his permission to do so. Onyx.

Heloisa Pinto (Goes Walking)
Heloisa Pinto is the actual name of the girl from Ipanema.  The songwriters were sitting at a café there in the morning and she walked past, and inspired one of the world’s most famous tunes.  

Pie Jesu
From the Faure Requiem.

Sailor’s Hornpipe
published by Onyx.

Agnus Dei
The last movement of Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices has one of the most beautiful endings I know. Onyx.

Stevie Wonder goes to the Blaydon Races
It’s a ubiquitous trick in a lot of pop music, to shift up a semitone every verse, possibly most memorably used in Stevie Wonder’s hit  ‘I just called to say I love you’.  This is the Blaydon Races tune exaggeratedly given the same manoeuvre, with the John Iveson middle section thrown in as well (see ‘Deck the Halls’). 

Serenata
More Stravinsky.  I once went for a lesson with the composer David Sawer.  During the afternoon he leapt up several times to grab a score to illustrate a point on How Things Should Be Done.  On all but one occasion, the score was by Stravinsky.  The 2nd movement of his Pulcinella Suite is so beautiful, I had to try and arrange it for brass. Onyx.

Miller’s Dance
Manuel de Falla’s famous work is atmospheric and exciting, and so it suits brass well.  This is published by Brass Works.

Mouvements Perpetuels
Poulenc’s distinctive 5-movement piano piece, transcribed for brass.

Golliwog’s Cakewalk
I could never do this famous piece justice on the piano, so I arranged it for brass quintet.  With an optional triangle moment for the tuba player.  Debussy wouldn’t have been proud. 

Czardas
For trombone solo accompanied by the rest of the quintet.  The soloist switches from tenor to alto trombone halfway through the piece. 

Ballade pour Trompette
A trumpet solo by Maurice Andre, arranged for ten brass. NAY because of copyright.

Holberg Suite 1st movement
Grieg. 

Entry of the Gladiators
A Very Silly Thing, as Monty Python would say, with swoops up and down from the horn and tuba respectively, lots of ‘Have a Banana’s and a siren. 

Summertime
A very old favourite tune of mine, this is a version arranged for ten piece brass group, and recorded by Barbican Brass. I updated the arrangement and added percussion in 2019.

America

Maria

I feel pretty

Golliwog’s Cakewalk

The Little Shepherd

Mouvements Perpetuels

Minstrels 

The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

One Note Samba

The Girl from Ipanema

A Policeman’s Lot

Dwarf’s Suite 

Autumn Leaves 

The Wild Bears

 

En Bateau

A beautiful piano piece by Debussy, it suited full orchestration very well.

I’m afraid these are all for solo trombone, nothing else. I did a spot of busking a few years ago, in a hospital foyer, so it was for public entertainment, not any fee.  And I produced this lot to help. The reason they’re free here is that most of them are within copyright. Therefore I couldn’t, nor would I want to, charge anything for them. If you download these, as you’re welcome to do, and play them in public, please do the same, copyright is there for a reason. If you use them for personal  financial gain that’s up to you, but this is by way of being a disclaimer. But of course if you just want to take them and play them at home, or play them anywhere for free, especially just for other’s pleasure, please do so. There must be about 90-odd free tunes to play here. So far.

There are famous individual tunes in different styles: classical (‘Pie Jesu’, ‘The Swan’ etc), popular (a Sinatra medley, ‘Londonderry Air’), and many, many jazz standards, mostly contained within the medleys ‘3 Moons’ and ’10 Standards’. With this last one, as it’s a medley of 10 pieces, obviously this is going to take some time, and considerable toll on the chops, so there are stopping points throughout the medley, with an ending for you to choose to carry on, or stop there. There are several medleys, with at least 4 tunes in each, plenty for anyone to play or listen to. There are several from shows, Chitty, Poppins, Fiddler etc, some very English ones, namely a G&S medley and one a mini Last Night of the Proms. There are bawdy English ones, the Cockney runaround ‘ ‘Ave a Banana’ and ‘The Good Old Days’. There are a couple of Xmas medleys, and one (so far) which is all TV tunes. And there are a couple based purely on a musical phrase. In one case it’s a rising phrase of 4 notes, which I’ve put a warning on, recommending that people don’t play this one, as I did, in a hospital, as one of the tunes in it is ‘Congratulations’ by Cliff Richard. Not what people wanted to hear when sobbing over dying relatives. Finally, there’s one tune by me, scraped off the top of a quartet (available in The Shop), called Loopy Louise.

As a final word to help, especially if you do want to take these to the public, I’ve put timings on all of them. Playing the trombone with no rest is a heavy business, so you can judge the length of your next selection by how your chops are feeling. And (PB) or (NPB) under the title means that a particular tune is happily playable on the PBone, or Not. Not by me anyway. It just means there’s fiddly low stuff, which is hard and awkward on the PBone. Up to you though.

Help yourself.

Agnus Dei

After seven compositions, at last an arrangement. The quintet version is elsewhere in this catalogue, and published by Onyx Brass. But I thought it would sit nicely for band as well, so here we are.

Igor’s Shuffle
I’m using various Stravinsky orchestral excerpts here, to make a light solo trombone piece.  Lots of it works well: the dramatic high muted entry in Petrushka relaxes into a bluesy tune; the A minor stuff at the beginning of the Katschei movement in Firebird turns into a stomp nicely, and so on.  It meant having a good look at various scores by the master himself, which was obviously well worth doing.

Radiophonics
For trombone quartet, an attempt to create effects similar to the BBC Radiophonic workshop. It’s working so far…

Kandinsky Suite
Three of his most striking or evocative pictures, portrayed as music.

8 Shameless Intros
For Brass Quintet, this is intended very much to involve the audience. It consists of eight short bursts, all onviously leading somewhere, but where? The idea is that the listeners will then each have an idea in their own heads where the music is about to lead. A few seconds between each burst, for them to picture their own musical thoughts, then on to the next one.

Five English Atmospheres
For Brass Quintet. The five movements are King Arthur; Rolling Fields; Sherwood Forest; Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge, and Fish ‘n’ Chips in Blackpool.  The piece is finished but needs a lot of work / rescuing.  The fish ‘n’ chips movement is quite fun, and includes a trip to the Pleasure Beach.

Fest Music der Stadt Bethnal Green
There’s a piece, for full orchestral brass section by Richard Strauss, well-known to brass players, called Fest Music der Stadt Wien, festival music for the town of Vienna.  It’s possibly the best of several such pieces that he wrote.  They’re all heroic and fanfarey, and all seem to be in E flat, and often have considerable build-ups to the home key.  My version is for Brass Tentet, and I’ve been a bit cheeky.  The chord of B flat 7 appears near the start, and then goes on for way longer than it should, ever threatening to resolve into E flat, but never doing so.  There are plenty of Strauss quotes in this frankly frustrating couple of minutes.  But of course it had to get there eventually, and when we finally reach E flat, it’s a comic dash round a load of old cockney tunes.  Har bleedin’ har.

Rockriffs
A dynamic piece for Brass Tentet, which features a few tunes I wrote for a rock set-up, so it’s all rather catchy. There are glimpses of famous actual heavy rock riffs, and the piece ends with a round-and-round chord sequence that features riffs from earlier. I really should finish this one.

Praeludium and Allegro
The violin solo by Fritz Kreisler, expanded so that ten brass players can play it.

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