Four Winds

  • Wind Ensemble
  • Completed: 19 February 2008; Premiered: 28 March 2008
  • Sheet Music Plus

The title refers to the Four Winds of the Apocalypse. This single movement work is based entirely on a six-note synthetic scale including the notes C, D, E, G, Ab, A. Every other note of this scale is combined into two different triads, one augmented and the other suspended. The alternation of these two triads serves as the only harmonic structure for the piece.

The trombone begins by stating a simple idea, which is blown around the ensemble until it develops into the first theme when the woodwinds take over. Following a driving ostinato percussion transition, the trumpet states the second theme.

The chimes state the third theme, a twisted interpretation of the Medieval hymn, Dies Irae. The bass instruments join the chimes in repeating the third theme, while the rest of the winds restate the second theme and the percussion continue their ostinato.

Each section states and repeats its own motive in a group effort that constitutes the fourth theme, then the woodwinds gently return to the first theme, accompanied by a subdued and rhythmically altered version of the third theme.

The percussion ostinato returns, though rhythmically altered. The trumpets and horns bring back an altered version of the second theme, while the woodwinds do the same for the first theme. Just before the end, the trombone tries to return to the calm that began the performance. A final strong gust from the entire ensemble puts an end to this idea, simultaneously signaling the end of the piece.

This live recording is from the premiere performance by the Wind Ensemble at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, conducted by C. David Ragsdale.

Don Bowyer · Four Winds


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