“This Primordial, Threatening Noise…” is a secular response to the numerous hymn-tune settings that populate the wind band literature. Over the course of the work, the well-known melody “Nearer My God, to Thee” is chopped up, reordered, reharmonized, and otherwise subverted until it is barely discernible. One full statement of the melody is heard shortly after the beginning of the work, where it is pitted against “Amazing Grace” in an opposing key.
A fanfare heralds the central portion of the work: fast, rhythmic material in mixed meter that culminates in searing brass chords.
The work closes with more fragmentation of the melody and chords similar to those heard at the beginning of the piece. Tones are stacked one on top of the other to form the large, dissonant masses of sound that close the work.
“This Primordial, Threatening Noise…” was composed during the spring and summer of 2009 for Jason Caslor, who conducted the premiere of the work at Arizona State University in October of that year. The title of the piece is taken from Jacques Attali’s book Noise: the Political Economy of Music, in which the author discusses the similarities between music and prehistoric sacrificial rites.
I’m grateful to Jason for his belief in this work, and to the musicians who worked with him to bring it to fruition. This recording was made at Jason’s lecture/recital at Arizona State University, October 11th, 2009