Solo tuba and chamber orchestra, arr. by composer. 6.5 minutes.
Fl, clar, bsn, marimba, piano, strings.
Energetic and fresh. Challenging to the performer, accessible to the audience.
Great piece to show off the ordchestra's seldom featured tubist or bass-trombonist.
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|Full score & solo part (PDF) ?||$25|
|Orchestral parts (PDF) ?||$45|
by Dr. Mark Nelson
Wow! The first thing I did was listen to the tape provided that included a performance track with a sampled tuba as the solo. This piece nearly blew my socks off with intense rhythmic drive and beautiful melodic writing. Make no mistake, this reviewer is impressed with the writing. This is not an overly technical piece once the performer becomes accustomed to the syncopation and the alternating meters, especially alternating 11/16 and 7/16 bars at quarter note = 96. The range is mostly in the "cash register" tessitura within the bass clef staff. However, one must have a consistent high range up to g 1 as some of the writing lingers in that area. The low register is confined to FF which is a solid note for nearly all players of at least high school age. Because of the rhythmic intensity and the occasional high tessitura, this piece should be reserved for advanced college and professional players.
Of all the compositional parameters of this composition, the rhythmic drive is a major focus focus of attention. Not unlike the "pattern-pulse" music of Adams, Reich and Glass, Jesse Ayers' piece has established a fascinating portrayal of synthesized sound which is sophisticated in texture and pleasurable to listen to--a sort of fast "neo-gamelan" listening experience with elements of jazz woven in. The melody played by the tuba capitalizes on the sonorous qualities of a a pedal point at times and of a sixteenth note obligato at other times. In between, the tuba and the tape play unison "licks" that have definite rock/jazz qualities to them.
The score contains only the tuba part. This is a significant departure from most other pieces for tape which provide at least a cue line for the tape part. However, the accompaniment is so repetitive and tonal that I believe a full score would be more of a burden than a help.
Of particular interest to this reviewer is the pedagogical work Dr. Ayers has done to give the performer the best chance of a successful performance. The composer more than makes up for the lack of a full score by including on the tape two accompaniment tracks on side one, to realize the actual performance, and performance and practice tracks on side two to rehearse with. The performance track, as I mentioned earlier, is a complete performance at speed with a sampled tuba sound as the solo part. The first practice track is at quarter note = 72 and split left and right so the solo part (played with a piano timbre) can be silenced during practice. A second practice track (again with split solo and accompaniment) is at quarter note = 84. With these practice "crutches," the performer can really listen to the sophisticated tape part and learn the piece much more quickly and efficiently.
...All in all The Dancing King is a great new work which should have a good chance of becoming part of the "new" standard repertoire. It would make an excellent beginning or end to a program and has elements that would appeal to a wide audience.
© 1991 TUBA Journal, used by permission
Professor of Tuba, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire
It was my pleasure to give the world premiere of The Dancing King by Jesse Ayers at the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference in Sapporo, Japan in 1990 and later to perform it again at the ISCM World Music Days in Warsaw, Poland in 1992. I have since performed it in a variety of venues, and always to the delight of audiences. The work conveys a true sense of joy and freedom that communicates with almost any listener. This is a work that is very playable by advanced undergraduate students and will provide a nice change of pace for any recital, whether it is a senior recital or a program presented by a professional artist.
March 2008. Professional tubist Kenyon Wilson will be performing Jesse Ayers' work for solo tuba and pre-recorded accompaniment track, The Dancing King, in solo recitals in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carloina. Wilson also toured with Ayers' Dancing King in October 2007 in Nebraska, South Dakata, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and in March 2007 in New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Colorado.
Wilson's first contact with Ayers' music was in 1991 when Wilson was a member of the famed Tennessee Tech Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble when it premiered Ayers'The Magical, Mystical Rain Forest, the other of Ayers' two works utilizing pre-recorded accompaniment track.
The Dancing King is a musical depiction of ancient Israel's King David when he "danced before the Lord with all his might." (II Samuel 6: 14).
The title of this work refers to King David of ancient Israel, who, upon the recapture of the Ark of the Covenant from Israel's enemies, "danced before the Lord with all his might" (II Samuel 6:14). This music is a depiction of the elation and exhilaration described in this Old Testament scene as this warrior-poet leads his people in praise and thanksgiving.
The composition is in modified ternary form with two transitional passages preceding the mid-section: A-x-y-B-A-Coda. Rhythm is the dominant element, providing drive and energy, with harmonic components contributing to the sense of joy and jubilation. In each section, the accompaniment was composed first, then the solo line.
The piece was begun in 1978 at the request of classmate Frank Banton for a piece for his grauduate recital. It was about 90% complete, but I was unsure of the instrumentation I wanted for the accompaniment. Piano was an obvious but overused choice, and was not really the tone color I wanted. Mallet percussion would require two players using 4-mallet technique. Two players dealing with an unrelenting accompaniment of sixteenth notes in mixed meters while contending with 4-mallets could be a recipe for piece-stopping disaster, not good for a piece whose purpose is to showcase the tuba. Unable to tunnel under or scale over this quandry, I laid the piece aside. Then about 10 years later I had my first experience with a MIDI keyboard with an on-board sequencer, a now ancient Ensoniq ESQ-1. After experimenting with its sounds and recording possibilities, I remembered my tuba piece still hiding safely in my briefcase, and began work on the accompaniment. Pieces for solo instrument and tape were nothing new then, but the ones I had heard up until this time tended to be the "outer space" sounds of the 1960s experimental electronic music. —JA
© Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Jesse Ayers