Gunther Schuller's Music For Brass Ensemble

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In the second movement of his Music for Brass Quintet, Gunther Schuller utilizes unique articulations, rhythmic variance, and different combinations of mutes resulting in tension built from the swiftly changing textures. Throughout the movement Schuller takes advantage of brass instruments ability to double and triple tongue quickly. As seen in measure 3, he sets up the trumpet, horn, and trombone to tongue at different speeds while raising in dynamic. Due to the similar timbre of these instruments, the result is an unstable homophonic texture that sounds aggressive. Schuller then has the instruments jump down to a piano dynamic. This decision is risky, due to the fact that all of the instruments are entering, and that it will be difficult …show more content…

The first instance is in measure 46, where all but the horn removes their mutes. While it would be assumed that the only muted voice would be the foreground of the section, the opposite is presented here. The horn continues the ostinato figure from the previous figure. Overall this allows for the rest of the ensemble to act as the solo voices collectively, and allows the rhythmic variance they have against the horn to stand out. In measure 68 we see the opposite combination used, where everyone is muted except for the tuba. This was likely done so that the tuba would have a distinct difference in color comparatively. This is necessary for its melodic line to cut through the ensemble. The end of the piece features the only change in the muted horn in the movement. In measure 73 Schuller marks the horn to play half muted. This technique results in a hold unstable sound, perfect for summing up the themes of the movement.
In Gunther Schuller’s second movement of his Music for Brass Quintet, he utilizes brass instruments’ range, articulations, and muting abilities to create an unstable rhythmically complex piece that still carries a melodic

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