Snap! for large chamber ensemble | Michael Daugherty, composer

for large chamber ensemble (1987)

Instrumentation: Flute (piccolo), oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, synthesizer, 3 percussion (I=crash cymbal; II=xylophone/vibraphone/glockenspiel/triangle; III=crash cymbals); violin I, violinn II, viola, cello, double bass (1 ea. or small complements)

World Premiere: May 1987 / Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY / Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble / Larry Rachleff

Peermusic Classical, BMI (Americas and Asia)
Faber Music (Europe, Australia and New Zealand)

Duration: 7 minutes

Program Note:

This work for chamber ensemble features two cymbal players positioned on opposite sides of the stage, who perform a duet of various rhythmic patterns in stereo. The idea of this spatial separation occurred to me when I saw James Cagney tap dancing in the 1937 Hollywood film, Something to Sing About. Sporting a top hat and tuxedo in the opening night club scene, Cagney tap dances up and down and around a stage framed by two jazz bands: one stage left, the other stage right, with the camera continually panning back and forth. Reflecting on my own early experience of learning to tap dance, I composed a syncopated and snappy opening motive for Snap! This motive, first heard in the trumpet at the beginning of the composition, goes through various rhythmic permutations and melodic elaboration. As my compositional camera pans across the ensemble, I rotate two or three lines contrapuntally in different instrumental combinations to create multiple musical canons. Snap! is my jazz tribute to the golden age of Hollywood and the panache of Cagney’s performance.

–Michael Daugherty