Blue Shades
by Frank Ticheli

Frank Ticheli (born 1958, Monroe, Louisiana) joined the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in 1991, where he is Professor of Composition. He is widely known for his works for concert band, many of which have become standards in the repertoire. In addition, Ticheli has a substantial body of orchestral music which has received considerable recognition in the U.S. and Europe. Orchestral performances have come from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, the radio orchestras of Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Saarbruecken, and Austria, and the orchestras of Austin, Charlotte, Colorado, Haddonfield, Harrisburg, Hong Kong, Jacksonville, Long Island, Louisville, Lubbock, Memphis, Nashville, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, Richmond, San Antonio, San Jose, and others. From 1991 to 1998, Ticheli was Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and he still enjoys a close working relationship with that orchestra and their conductor, Carl St. Clair. Awards for his music include two from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, and First Prize awards in the Texas Sesquicentennial Orchestral Composition Competition, Britten-on-the-Bay Choral Composition Contest, and Virginia CBDNA Symposium for New Band Music. Commissions and grants have come from Chamber Music America, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale, Revelli Foundation, Kappa Kappa Psi, Prince George’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Adrian Symphony, City of San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Michigan, University of Miami, Trinity University, Indiana Bandmasters Association, Worldwide Concurrent Premieres, and others. Frank Ticheli received his doctoral and masters degrees in composition from The University of Michigan where he studied with William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, and George Wilson. His works are published by Manhattan Beach, Helicon, Hinshaw, and Encore Music, and are recorded on the labels of Koch International Classics, Albany, Klavier, and Mark Records.

1997: Year of composition

Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music

Grade: 5

Type of Composition: Six section form: intro, exposition of main themes, D pedal and climax I, dark and dirty, extended clarinet solo, final shout.

Style: high spirited and jazz feeling throughout.

Programming Suggestions: Four years, and several compositions later, I finally took the opportunity to realize that need by composing Blue Shades. As its title suggests, the work alludes to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent — however, it is in not literally a Blues piece. There is not a single 12-bar blues progression to be found, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth-note is not swung. The work, however, is heavily influenced by the Blues: “Blue notes” (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many “shades of blue” are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue. At times, Blue Shades burlesques some of the clichés from the Big Band era, not as a mockery of those conventions, but as a tribute. A slow and quiet middle section recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt. An extended clarinet solo played near the end recalls Benny Goodman’s hot playing style, and ushers in a series of “wailing” brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era. Blue Shades was commissioned by a consortium of thirty university, community, and high school concert bands under the auspices of the Worldwide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund.

Solo instruments: bass clarinet, alto saxophone, timpani, flute, contrabass clarinet, Bb clarinet, oboe.

Anecdotal Notes: Brass chords in intro should be very staccato, energetic and distinct. Exaggerate all notes marked with a sf. The exposition and main themes has a multi-layered texture. Horn players should not lose intensity when they flatten notes with hand. The cowbell player must drive the section into the D pedal and climax section. This section contrasts from the previous section. The D pedal is underlying in the eighth notes. It should always be heard, but never dominate. In 249 a canonic passage occurs and the horn rips should be played loud, but tasteful to lead to the climax. The dark and dirty section is marked by the bass clarinet solo and is marked rubato. The bass clarinet passed to the soprano clarinet and it passes to the oboe. The transitions should be as smooth as possible. The “Dirty” section should be shamelessly provocative and carnal. The tam-tam player shouldn’t hold back in measure 304 and 306. The accelerando should be smooth and consistent throughout the passage. It needs to lead the piece into the next section. The Extended Clarinet Solo section implies a small jazz combo accompanied by occasional outbursts from a big band. The Final Shout should increase in intensity as the piece draws to a close. The piece involves a lot of syncopated rhythms and exposed solos in some unusual instruments. Numerous heimolas occur and can cause great confusion within the ensemble. Must have at least 6 good percussionist in order to attempt the piece. Dynamics and various punches greatly effect the music. Parts within instrument families are very independent of each other. Meter changes occur throughout the piece and go from simple to compound. Most of the instruments play in extreme ranges and brass parts have high note passages and punches that are preceded by rests. Complete sections must be able to do special effects such as flattening pitches in horn parts and flutter tonguing in flutes. Passages can build to a climax and just stop allowing for one or two instruments to continue with a duet. Complicated rhythms throughout parts in the ensemble and especially solos. Must have many unique percussion instruments.

Discography: BLUE SHADES: THE MUSIC OF FRANK TICHELI Michigan State University Wind Symphony, John L. Whitwell, conductor Mark Masters ….Deja View North Texas Wind Symphony E. Corporon, conductor. ASIN: B00000DG2I

Recording of "Blue Shades"