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Popular Music of Planet X:

A Symphony for Concert Band


Composed September 1990; 2004; February 10--May 27, 2015
Duration: about 26 minutes 40 seconds
cover: London casino, 1938

(Each of the four movements is offered as a separate piece, and is listed as such on the Music page.)

Full Score, PDF        Cover      Parts, f&b, PDF

I. Polytonalmodalyodel

Giant leaps for all mankind    [7:23]   

II. A Little Poem

Largo    [5:44]     

III. Faster, Higher, Louder
Paprika    [7']     MP3 (chamber version, clarinet and strings)

IV. Bump and Grind     
Allegro burlesque: More Bump: Tempo I: Dolce: More Bump   

          In 1990 I wrote several works for my friend Fred Robinson who was the composer/arranger at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Among these was a work for jazz band, The Popular Music of Planet X in three “Books”. The idea was the rather whimsical one that somewhere among the myriad planets there could be a civilization where the prime incentive for the music industry was not mercenary. Clearly such a planet must be far, far away. I also wrote some chamber works, including a brass quintet. The Air Force didn’t seem to appreciate the effort, and the score and parts were returned. (When you bomb with the Air Force….you REALLY BOMB!) 
          Come summer of 2004 and I once again was writing music, and turned my attention to the old PMPX and the chamber music. I made many major alterations and had brand new versions. However, these works remained unperformed, difficult to play, and of no interest to jazz bands or chamber groups. Thus in 2015 I decided to try again. The piece is now for concert band, which is much more suited to the idiom. The only surviving movement from the old PMPX is the bulk of Bump and Grind. The third movement comes from the Clarinet Sextet for clarinet and strings. The first movement was originally from the now-defunct brass quintet of 1990 and 2004. The second movement’s opening was from the original PMPX, and has a chamber version for piano and woodwind quintet. 
        Considering that this is my personal vision of what music intended for mass consumption would be in a more ideal world, I’ve allowed the influence of some popular idioms in the first and last movements. However, as all of my music, this is strictly in the classical tradition, with no improvisation, and to be treated in the same way as other “serious” art music—even, and perhaps especially, when it’s intended to be for fun. This piece is designed to be appreciated by most people who come to concert band concerts.

Performance Notes
          The String Bass part is intended for an acoustic bass, as there are bowed passages. Amplification is probably a good idea and left to the discretion of the band. An electric bass may not be used in its stead. If an electronic keyboard is used instead of an acoustic piano in the second and fourth movements, it should have a concert grand piano sound except for the second movement, where other sounds may be appropriate (such as harp). However, the preference is strongly in favor of a real piano.
          The standard score for PMPX is at concert pitch. If a music director so requests, I will make a transposed score, with some grumbling.
          Any of the four movements individually, or any combination of fewer than all four, may be performed, as long as the audience is informed that they come from this larger work. All four are printed as separate pieces, with sets of parts, to encourage individual performances. I have kept the technical demands within reasonable limits.