Program Note for Little Screamers





Little Screamers for Piano Four-Hands is a recomposition of Screamers for Wind Ensemble with some substantial changes in the transitions. The term "screamers' refers to the kind of raucous band music played in the circus to rouse the crowd and make the acts more exciting. Much of this spirit is transferred to the piano version, with more flexibility. I like to think of this music as the prototype for film music that is designed to underplay dramatic action.


Composed in 1980 for the UCLA Wind Ensemble, Screamers summons up a world of dizzying high wire acts and circus parades. It is as much a mockery as a celebration of bygone bandstand recreations. While the work contains no actual complete musical quotations, passing and obvious references are made to rhythmic gestures in various Sousa marches, Hamel's Crystal Pearls, Fucik's Entry of the Gladiators, and one of the greatest circus marches, J. C. Heed's Storm and Sunshine. Fugal passages and chorales are sprinkled throughout to lend a kind of academic legitimacy to the proceedings. Screamers came into being as a result of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and it was honored by the College Band Director's National association in 1983. The work is in the catalog of Carl Fischer Inc.