Exclusive: Hopkins' Latest Notes on "Side by Side"

Behind-the-scenes details straight from The Cadets Design Team

This writing is primarily for Brass Arranger Jay Bocook and is a guideline for the remainder of the show, as well as some commentary on what we have to date.

Symphony – Part 2
For the most part, this is an opportunity for the percussion.
That said, we have learned that a percussion feature without a fully coordinated plan for integration for the elements is usually a mistake. We end up without focus.

Where we are coming from:

The end of the 1st Symphony – Movement 1
We are going to have to expand this. We need to build more tension. Currently we have a musical set-up that is rather classic… brass tutti accents and percussion filling in.

We are looking to build tension and then resolve it… kind of… not in the sense of a grand standing ovation but rather building the emotion I will call “shock and awe.”

And away we go to tie the “Adagio” idea …
The brass play about 40 counts at 156 bpm. We start reasonably soft, crescendo I think, and then the volume decreases as the battery and the second movement come into play.
-How do we do this, as all were just involved with the end of part 1?
-If we have electronics to handle, then the opening of part 2 – about 26 counts – is almost all keys.
-Alternatives: Small group that never did the end of the opener. For now, let’s write it as a small group.

Lay out of Part 2:
1 – I need help on the counting, but the first 36 counts is keys. It could work as is, but this is a virtuoso opportunity, and I think you should adjust as necessary to draw folks into the opening. After all, we already have ADAGIO over top. If we become much more convoluted, there is a danger of comprehension for the masses becoming difficult.

2 – After the key entrance, a single brass player on one side plays the main melody. This appears to be about 16 counts.

3 – The melody transfers back to the keys, but just for 8 counts.

4 – A single brass player on the OTHER side plays a variation on the same melody. This has to be composed. What is in the original is not really what we want. This would be symmetrical, therefore the same 16 counts.

5 – Then we go to the keys for the descending line idea. Gives a bit of symmetry to the idea, but if Jay does not think this is necessary, as we discuss today, this can be cut.

REVIEW OF IDEA: Keyboard opportunity – a bit of side to side – set up for what is coming.

Percussion begins build to the first arrival and full-brass moment. The percussion lead-in would be about 16-24 counts and is for the purpose primarily of staging, getting all where they need to be.

As for the arrival – and this is me building on the discussion we had last weekend – the brass and full-corps arrival would need to be extended a bit, but I would like to set this as 36 brass that push back and forth against each other – almost like “trading 8’s.”

Eight counts Side 1
Eight counts Side 1
Four counts melody – Side 1
Four counts – other side
Two counts
Two counts
Two counts
One count
One count

We need not be separated in space by all that much but if you take a listen to what I am thinking and hearing.

I think the battery would be integrated into the two sides –the question is, what about the intro?
Or the question is, is there a way the percussion can stay together through this? In total, it is not a ton of counts, but of course if they are together they can do a bit… perhaps they are behind the two sides of the brass section??? Perhaps. Something to think about today.

Now then, the centerpiece of this section of the piece.

IDEA 3 – We are heading towards setting up a maze
It would be great if this happened very quickly and as such the transition to get us here is about 36 counts – an awesome (I think) meter-changing pit feature that allows the grid to happen.

So now, in the next section, the cool part is all about passing around the musical line through the grid. I even see the individual percussion people inside the grid so that they, too, have to pass things around.

This is not going to be easy, but there is a moment here for sure.

The source material for this is 1:30 to 2 minutes. I would say, to make something of this, 48 to 64 counts (this is at about 140 bpm I think).

Why? As I mentioned, I see the percussion inside the grid, and as individuals they pass along the triplets… but after one phrase, they would have to move out and away, for they are going to be featured as a battery section coming out of this!!!

The battery finally gets to swing.

Then in the transition out, I would love if the brass could play the lick at 2:20 [source music reference], or a version thereof. That would allow the battery to get back in position and so on.

IDEA 5 – Full ensemble
There is some stuff to flush out in the end. Clearly we are keeping the ending, and clearly there is a good bit of hot brass opportunity, and we still have that percussion line to center on.

A Jeff Sacktig/Jay Bocook ending… What if we could do one side by side? ☺

Final notes on this piece:
In an effort to get every little effect and nuance, we have to be careful that we do not go too long. We need to make our point and get on to next one.

I know that I like to exaggerate effects and expand tension, and in an 11:30 show, you just cannot do it unless you have the payoff coming down the pike – a big one!

OK… these are the notes. This is the #1 focus for Jay and I today. We will also make sure that the first part of the show is exactly perfect so that there is nothing to be wanted when writing drill.


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