Linham – Elements for Brass Trio (2019)

Composer: Ryan Linham (2019)
Duration: 9-10 minutes
Grade: 8+
Brass Trio
Trumpet in C, French Horn, Trombone

‘Elements’ was commissioned for the Brass Trio of the New European Ensemble to perform as part of the Nutshuis Garden Concert Series. Premiered in The Hague in August 2019, the theme of the concert was nature and this piece was performed to bridge the gap of standard repertoire items such as the Poulenc Sonata to more contemporary works.

The piece is made of 4 improvisatory musical sketches complete with many mutes and extended techniques to showcase the full range of colour that the brass instruments can create.

Movement one, ‘Air’ uses wind effects and the whispy sound of harmon mutes without the stems in. Add this to fleeting semiquavers in in a 9/8 meter, the bright sparkling lydian mode and influences of John Williams’ flying themes and this movement invokes the feeling of free flight.

The second, ‘Water’ plays with the sound of gurgling, using wah-wah harmon mutes and doodle tonguing, in a 3/4 that ebbs and flows like a wave. There is an almost comedic waltz featuring ripples before the water suddenly begins to flow and turn. Basing the music on the brilliant water sound of the French impressionists, whole tone harmony and even a quote from La Mer, more rich and interesting colours are created in this movement.

The penultimate part, ‘Earth’ finds its musical basis in three ideas. Firstly, the idea of Earth as a planet that has an etherial quality. Secondly, an idea of Earth as soil and given life by the people upon it, hence the folk music quality and dorian mode. Finally the woody quality of cup mutes to create more of a literally earthy sound.

The finale, ‘Fire’ begins with ignition, the sound of a match being struck and the fire started quickly turns to danger. Using the biting sound of metal straight mutes and stopped horn, diminished harmony based in Stravinsky’s Firebird language and a fast semi-quaver driven pulse with tense repeated notes this movement is a bold and energetic finale to the work.

Sample Score: