On Thin AirOn Thin Air
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On Thin Air

for percussion ensemble
Level: Easy
Duration: 2:50
Personnel: 9-14 players
Release Date: 2020
Product ID : TSPCE20-021
Price: $34.00
Item #: TSPCE20-021

Formats Available:


Description

John Willmarth’s On Thin Air depicts what it might feel like to fly. The music evokes images of gliding, breathtaking views, and soaring high above the clouds. It is meant to evoke a sense of freedom, hopefulness, and wonder in the listener. 

While the piece is written for younger groups with limited experience, it still communicates through a contemporary musical voice. The piece would also work well for more experienced middle school and high school ensembles with limited time to assemble and rehearse. Furthermore, to accommodate ensembles of different sizes and instrument capacities, five of the seven individual percussion parts are optional.


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

Instrumentation

Glockenspiel

Chimes

Xylophone

Vibraphone

1 or 2 marimbas—(1) low A or (1) 4-octave & (1) low A

3 timpani

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

Cymbals (crash cymbals, 2 suspended cymbals, ride cymbal, hi-hat)

Accessories (mounted tambourine, small woodblock, small triangle, sleigh bells, brake drum, mark tree)

Reviews

“On Thin Air” is a versatile piece that can meet the needs of a variety of different ensembles. Set almost entirely in eighth and quarter notes, the composer seeks to evoke “images of gliding, breathtaking views, and soaring above the clouds.” While suited for a younger ensemble (beginning high school) or a group rehearsing with limited time (honor band festival or a college sight-reading session), the music is convincing and uses clever compositional techniques to get the most out of limited material without seeming trite or tired— sounding similar to a Pixar or Disney soundtrack. 

The non-pitched instruments provide a solid base of interlocking quarter- and eighth-note rhythms, over which the xylophone and two marimba parts play similar, repetitive figures, using a limited range of pitches. Slower-moving, sustained gestures are scored in the glockenspiel, chimes, and vibraphone—often presented in unison rhythm. The timpani part is perhaps the most soloistic, providing punctuations and interaction with the rest of the ensemble. 

John Wilmarth provides a wealth of performance notes that will ease the mind of non-percussionist directors, such as which parts can be omitted, instrument substitutions, and permission to modify any parts to meet the needs of individual students. Pedagogy aside, the fact that this short piece (2:30) can be subjected to so many different approaches and still maintain its listenability and integrity is a testament to the composer’s craftsmanship. 

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 59, No. 1, February 2021

Description

John Willmarth’s On Thin Air depicts what it might feel like to fly. The music evokes images of gliding, breathtaking views, and soaring high above the clouds. It is meant to evoke a sense of freedom, hopefulness, and wonder in the listener. 

While the piece is written for younger groups with limited experience, it still communicates through a contemporary musical voice. The piece would also work well for more experienced middle school and high school ensembles with limited time to assemble and rehearse. Furthermore, to accommodate ensembles of different sizes and instrument capacities, five of the seven individual percussion parts are optional.


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

Instrumentation

Glockenspiel

Chimes

Xylophone

Vibraphone

1 or 2 marimbas—(1) low A or (1) 4-octave & (1) low A

3 timpani

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

Cymbals (crash cymbals, 2 suspended cymbals, ride cymbal, hi-hat)

Accessories (mounted tambourine, small woodblock, small triangle, sleigh bells, brake drum, mark tree)

Reviews

“On Thin Air” is a versatile piece that can meet the needs of a variety of different ensembles. Set almost entirely in eighth and quarter notes, the composer seeks to evoke “images of gliding, breathtaking views, and soaring above the clouds.” While suited for a younger ensemble (beginning high school) or a group rehearsing with limited time (honor band festival or a college sight-reading session), the music is convincing and uses clever compositional techniques to get the most out of limited material without seeming trite or tired— sounding similar to a Pixar or Disney soundtrack. 

The non-pitched instruments provide a solid base of interlocking quarter- and eighth-note rhythms, over which the xylophone and two marimba parts play similar, repetitive figures, using a limited range of pitches. Slower-moving, sustained gestures are scored in the glockenspiel, chimes, and vibraphone—often presented in unison rhythm. The timpani part is perhaps the most soloistic, providing punctuations and interaction with the rest of the ensemble. 

John Wilmarth provides a wealth of performance notes that will ease the mind of non-percussionist directors, such as which parts can be omitted, instrument substitutions, and permission to modify any parts to meet the needs of individual students. Pedagogy aside, the fact that this short piece (2:30) can be subjected to so many different approaches and still maintain its listenability and integrity is a testament to the composer’s craftsmanship. 

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 59, No. 1, February 2021



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