Dreams from the Dark ForestDreams from the Dark Forest
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Dreams from the Dark Forest

a four-movement narrative for percussion ensemble
Level: Med-Easy
Duration: 8:00
Personnel: 13 players
Release Date: 2019
Product ID : TSPCE19-030
Price: $38.00
Item #: TSPCE19-030

Formats Available:


Description

Dreams from the Dark Forest is a progressive four-movement work composed by Brian Slawson, designed to challenge young percussionists to formulate a narrative through instrumental music. Slawson titled each movement to provide just enough information to stimulate the imagination and allow the performers to create a unique and singular interpretation of the composition.

The piece may be performed in its entirety as a multi-movement work, or alternately, each of the movements below can stand on their own, making this a versatile piece for middle school and high school ensembles.


I. Myths & Legends resembles an introduction to a collection of fairy tales. The music should remain subtle and serve as a setup for what is to follow.


II. The Great Beyond has a distant, tribal character. As in the first movement, the ensemble should maintain a subtle approach to the dynamics in order to best serve the narrative.


III. Cloudburst is a fully improvised musical depiction of a thunderstorm. Started by the concert bass drum, all effects to follow are left to the discretion of the performers. Rolling while pedaling on an upside-down cymbal placed on a timpano can create atmospheric sounds. Bowed gongs and cymbals, thunder sheets, wooden toys, and bird whistles can also be used to great effect. Even in free improvisation, the greatest results occur by listening to each other and focusing on the sum of the parts.


IV. Whispers of Warriors Past, like the second movement, begins with a distant timpani call. Be patient with the dynamic build and end the story with a powerful climax.

This piece comes as a professionally printed and bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or for tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (A & E)*

Glockenspiels

Xylophone

Chimes

Vibraphone

Marimba—low A (shared)

4 timpani

Drums (concert toms (2), congas (2), bass drum)

Cymbals & gongs (suspended cymbal (2), crash cymbals, gong, finger cymbals, tam-tam)

Accessories (ukulele†, thunder sheet (optional), vibraslap, tambourine, triangle, sleigh bells)

*The ukulele parts consist of mostly open strings. An experienced player is not required.

†Possible substitutes for E and A crotales: a glockenspiel (played by striking them with finger cymbals), energy chimes (pitched E and A), or singing bowls (pitched E and A) strick with a triangle beater.

ABOUT CLOUDBURST IMPROVISATION INSTRUMENTATION

Movement 3 is an improvised thunderstorm. All effects listed are merely suggestions. Instrument selection is left to the discretion of the conductor and performers, other than the concert bass drum and congas. Check out the instrumentation notes in the into of the score for more suggestions.

Reviews

It can be challenging to find repertoire to help young percussionists see past the notes on a page and develop an overall character. “Dreams from the Dark Forest” helps to bridge this gap and opens up dialogue by providing an open-ended thematic concept. Each of the four movements includes a specific yet broad title to give young percussionists an opportunity to take a small idea and run with it in their own way. 

Scored for 13 players, Brian Slawson includes some challenging instrumentation for young- er ensembles but provides some information to ease wary directors. The ukulele part consists of mostly open-string individual lines with a few simple chords, not requiring an experienced player. If crotales are not available, Slawson provides useful alternatives — including energy chimes or glockenspiel with finger cymbals — to replicate the effect. He also includes a large list of possible instruments for the improvised thunderstorm (Movement III), providing ensembles with several options. 

The level of difficulty for each part is fairly consistent throughout the movements; however, the overall challenges from the most difficult mallet parts to the percussion parts does vary. All parts are limited to whole notes through eighth notes. The percussion parts are significantly less demanding than the mallet parts, allowing for some ease and flexibility in part assignments. All mallet parts are similar, written mostly in A-minor or D-minor, depending on the movement. The timpani part requires some tuning in between movements, potentially requiring a more advanced player. Overall, this four-movement piece allows for an ensemble with a diverse range of skills to perform together and focus more on the music beyond the notes on the page. 

“Dreams from the Dark Forest” allows directors to move away from simply teaching the notes or rhythms and opens up avenues of discussion on creating a unique programmatic performance. The composer cleverly includes open-ended program notes to allow for the meaning of each movement to be a joint discussion within an ensemble, even including the third improvised movement. This is a great ensemble for middle schools or young high school groups looking to encourage creativity from within the ensemble to take ownership of the character of each movement.

—Matthew Geiger
Percussive Notes
Vol. 58, No. 1, February 2020

Description

Dreams from the Dark Forest is a progressive four-movement work composed by Brian Slawson, designed to challenge young percussionists to formulate a narrative through instrumental music. Slawson titled each movement to provide just enough information to stimulate the imagination and allow the performers to create a unique and singular interpretation of the composition.

The piece may be performed in its entirety as a multi-movement work, or alternately, each of the movements below can stand on their own, making this a versatile piece for middle school and high school ensembles.


I. Myths & Legends resembles an introduction to a collection of fairy tales. The music should remain subtle and serve as a setup for what is to follow.


II. The Great Beyond has a distant, tribal character. As in the first movement, the ensemble should maintain a subtle approach to the dynamics in order to best serve the narrative.


III. Cloudburst is a fully improvised musical depiction of a thunderstorm. Started by the concert bass drum, all effects to follow are left to the discretion of the performers. Rolling while pedaling on an upside-down cymbal placed on a timpano can create atmospheric sounds. Bowed gongs and cymbals, thunder sheets, wooden toys, and bird whistles can also be used to great effect. Even in free improvisation, the greatest results occur by listening to each other and focusing on the sum of the parts.


IV. Whispers of Warriors Past, like the second movement, begins with a distant timpani call. Be patient with the dynamic build and end the story with a powerful climax.

This piece comes as a professionally printed and bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or for tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (A & E)*

Glockenspiels

Xylophone

Chimes

Vibraphone

Marimba—low A (shared)

4 timpani

Drums (concert toms (2), congas (2), bass drum)

Cymbals & gongs (suspended cymbal (2), crash cymbals, gong, finger cymbals, tam-tam)

Accessories (ukulele†, thunder sheet (optional), vibraslap, tambourine, triangle, sleigh bells)

*The ukulele parts consist of mostly open strings. An experienced player is not required.

†Possible substitutes for E and A crotales: a glockenspiel (played by striking them with finger cymbals), energy chimes (pitched E and A), or singing bowls (pitched E and A) strick with a triangle beater.

ABOUT CLOUDBURST IMPROVISATION INSTRUMENTATION

Movement 3 is an improvised thunderstorm. All effects listed are merely suggestions. Instrument selection is left to the discretion of the conductor and performers, other than the concert bass drum and congas. Check out the instrumentation notes in the into of the score for more suggestions.

Reviews

It can be challenging to find repertoire to help young percussionists see past the notes on a page and develop an overall character. “Dreams from the Dark Forest” helps to bridge this gap and opens up dialogue by providing an open-ended thematic concept. Each of the four movements includes a specific yet broad title to give young percussionists an opportunity to take a small idea and run with it in their own way. 

Scored for 13 players, Brian Slawson includes some challenging instrumentation for young- er ensembles but provides some information to ease wary directors. The ukulele part consists of mostly open-string individual lines with a few simple chords, not requiring an experienced player. If crotales are not available, Slawson provides useful alternatives — including energy chimes or glockenspiel with finger cymbals — to replicate the effect. He also includes a large list of possible instruments for the improvised thunderstorm (Movement III), providing ensembles with several options. 

The level of difficulty for each part is fairly consistent throughout the movements; however, the overall challenges from the most difficult mallet parts to the percussion parts does vary. All parts are limited to whole notes through eighth notes. The percussion parts are significantly less demanding than the mallet parts, allowing for some ease and flexibility in part assignments. All mallet parts are similar, written mostly in A-minor or D-minor, depending on the movement. The timpani part requires some tuning in between movements, potentially requiring a more advanced player. Overall, this four-movement piece allows for an ensemble with a diverse range of skills to perform together and focus more on the music beyond the notes on the page. 

“Dreams from the Dark Forest” allows directors to move away from simply teaching the notes or rhythms and opens up avenues of discussion on creating a unique programmatic performance. The composer cleverly includes open-ended program notes to allow for the meaning of each movement to be a joint discussion within an ensemble, even including the third improvised movement. This is a great ensemble for middle schools or young high school groups looking to encourage creativity from within the ensemble to take ownership of the character of each movement.

—Matthew Geiger
Percussive Notes
Vol. 58, No. 1, February 2020



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