Motown Mondays from Motor City Triptych (2000)
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  • Motown Mondays


Boosey and Hawkes, Hendon Music (BMI)

--- minutes

World Premiere

Program Note

The inspiration for Motown Mondays is a series of legendary performances by Motown artists on nine consecutive Mondays during the summer of 1966, at The Roostertail nightclub in downtown Detroit. These musicians became legends when they were recorded by Motown Records: The Four Tops, The Supremes, Junior Walker and the All Stars, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Marvelettes and The Temptations. 

Motown Records was formed in Detroit by Berry Gordy, Jr., an Afro-American producer and songwriter. During the sixties Motown became one of the most successful and influential recording companies in the history of American pop music. The distinctive Motown sound combined rhythm and blues, gospel, soul, funk, and rock, often accompanied by a large studio orchestra that included members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra string section.

I played many Motown songs on my Hammond Organ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when I formed a band in the late sixties called "The Soul Company." What I loved about Motown music was its rhythmic energy, the inventive use of vocal harmonies, and its sophisticated arrangements. In Motown Mondays I imagine an exotic world of harmonies and rhythms that might have been heard performed by Motown artists on a Monday night at The Roostertail Club.

Like a series of Motown ensembles, I divide the orchestra into various solos, duets, trios and quartets, leading up to an elaborate funky fugue in the coda. To evoke the falsetto voices, low bass rumblings, and lush gospel harmonies of Motown singers, I often have the instruments of the orchestra play in their extreme high and low registers.

In addition to soaring violin melodies, we hear the string section strumming pizzicato chords like a rhythm and blues guitar. Descending major seventh chords are heard in the woodwinds, punctuated by triangles and a harp playing ostinatos. Antiphonally placed percussion instruments, such as claves and cymbals, provide lively polyrhythmic counterpoint. In the composition I also incorporate and superimpose different time signatures (7/8 and 4/4 time), like a record spinning out of control on its turntable.

                                                                                                         --Michael Daugherty




For more information on Michael Daugherty' music visit:
Boosey & Hawkes
Peermusic Classical
Faber Music
American Composers Forum
Michael Daugherty Music