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Percussion ensemble music: (Listed in alphabetical order)
AMERICAN PHOENIX (2001) for solo
bass trombone (or tuba) and 4 percussion by Howard
J. Buss was written for Stefan Sanders and the 30th Anniversary of the International Trombone Assn.
It was composed following
the important world events of September 11, 2001 and was premiered by
Mr. Sanders and members of the University of North Texas Percussion Ensemble
at the 2002 International Trombone Festival. It is in 3 movements: In Remembrance 9/11/01, Repercussions,
and Renewal. Percussion: Perc. 1: Xylophone, tubular bells (chimes), suspended cymbal,
snare drum, police whistle & Chinese bell tree; Perc. 2:
Vibes, 2 suspended cymbals, 4 tom toms, bongos & wood block; Perc.
3: Marimba, tam-tam, lion roar, ratchet, slapstick, wind chimes &
suspended cymbal; Perc. 4: Marimba (to low A), timpani (4),
tambourine, 2 cowbells & suspended cymbal. "Buss
melodies vary. They are mystic, poignant, heroic, often modal, and at
times reminiscent of folk songs. He writes for the percussion ensemble
with mastery and features a wide range of instruments. The sound landscape
is rich with many moods and timbres. American Phoenix is
an attractive addition to a solo program or as a feature piece for a percussion
recital. It is rewarding for both performer and audience. - The
ITA Journal, January 2005 (15) Grade V.
Score Samples: Mvt. 1 In Remembrance 9/11/01.pdf; Mvt. 2 Repercussions.pdf; Mvt. 3 Renewal.pdf
THE BIG BANG (1992) for 6 percussion & piano by Howard J. Buss. This work in 2 movements is a musical representation of the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe which contends that our ever-expanding universe began as a colossal explosion at a single point in space. During the first movement, The Creation, all musical development grows out of an initial blast of sound. Waves of sound mass gradually crystallize into definite pitches leading to the formation of the natural harmonic series. 12-tone fragments intertwine and gradually coalesce into perceptible melodies. This musical development is analogous to the formation of compounds, amino acids, etc. Midway through the movement the spark of life" is introduced in an abrupt shift of musical activity which undergoes continuous development to the end of the movement. The animated second movement, Dance of Life, is a joyous celebration of life. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: 2 suspended cymbals, 3 brake drums, 2 cowbells, temple blocks, tam-tam & sand blocks; Perc. 2: Orchestra bells, 5 roto toms & triangle; Perc.3: Flexitone, timpani (4), wind chimes, bongos & a thunder sheet (or a large tam-tam); Perc. 4: Xylophone, suspended cymbal, bass drum & chimes (tubular bells); Perc. 5: Marimba, 2 anvils metal pipes may be substituted), tambourine, finger cymbals & triangle; Perc. 6: Vibraphone, chimes (tubular bells) which are shared with player 4, snare drum, 2 suspended cymbals & tam-tam.The piano is treated as an integral part of the percussion battery. This engaging work is appropriate for a college-level percussion ensemble. (18) Grade V-VI.
Sound Samples from the First Movement: Sample 1A.mp3, Sample 1B.mp3, Sample 1C.mp3
Sound Samples from the Second Movement: Sample 2A.mp3,Sample .mp3, Sample 2C.mp3
View on YouTube at The Big Bang: I. “The Creation” and The Big Bang: II. The Dance of Life
CROSSROADS (2011) for 4-part trombone choir and 8 percussion by Howard J. Buss is dedicated to Tom Brantley and Robert McCormick. The University of South Florida Trombone Choir and Percussion Ensemble premiered it in Tampa, Florida on January 21, 2012. This music is strongly influenced by jazz and Latin music. The intriguing rhythms and soaring melodies combined with the implied theatre suggested by the staging, make this a sophisticated, yet accessible composition that is rewarding to perform and listen to. The 4 trombone parts may be performed with a quartet; however, it is desirable to have multiple players used on each part except in those areas where the score specifically specifies one player on a part for a particular passage. The unique instrumentation of this ensemble, combined with the prevalence of numerous colleges and universities that have trombone choirs and percussion ensembles, make this a concert work destined to become standard literature. (15’40”) Grade V. "Somewhat contemporary sounding, with jazz and Latin influences, one's interest is held for the entirety. The two instrument families are well integrated throughout. Some sections are extremely lyrical in the percussion ensemble and rhythmic in the trombones, vice versa in others. This compositional technique allows for great clarity throughout the work. An enjoyable work for the performers and audience." -Susan Martin Tariq, Percussive Notes Magazine.
Additional Information: Percussion setup page.pdf General notes and instructions.pdf
Sound Samples: Excerpt_1.mp3, Excerpt_2.mp3, Excerpt_3.mp3, Excerpt_4.mp3 View at CROSSROADS YouTube Video
CURRENTS (1976) for 4 percussion by Howard J. Buss is divided into 4 main sections that explore various perspectives of the principles of timbral and metric modulation. Timbral and metric currents in the music interact and blend in a manner analogous to currents in physical mediums. In addition, there is an element of implied theater. As the work begins, 3 percussionists are conducted in the traditional manner by the fourth. Next to the conductor, clearly visible in front of the main percussion battery, is a wooden board bridging two saw horses and a carpenters hand saw. These sit idly through much of the work, long enough to arouse curiosity in the audience as to the role of these prominently displayed construction objects. About midway through the work the conductor lifts the saw overhead and strikes it. This serves as a cutoff gesture and also establishes that the saw is an extension of the conductors baton. The saw remains idle until the beginning of the fourth division of the work. During the final section it is used simultaneously as a baton and a percussion instrument by the director, who saws through wood, scrapes the saws teeth, slaps it on the board, strikes it with a mallet, and waves it in the air. At the very end of the work the conductor sets down the saw and walks behind the players to play the tam-tam. In doing so, he continues to direct the ensemble through the explosive conclusion. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: 2 anvils (metal pipes may be substituted), 2 cow bells, snare drum, 2 suspended cymbals, tambourine, timpani (1), xylophone & wind chimes; Perc. 2: hi-hat, maracas, 2 suspended cymbals, triangle, large tam-tam, 4 tom toms, and vibraphone; Perc. 3: Bass drum, guiro, marimba, 2 suspended cymbals, temple blocks & triangle; Perc. 4 (conductor): Carpenters saw, a 2x2 wooden board & 2 saw horses. A memorable combination of percussive artistry and theatrical class - The Washington Post. (14) Grade V-VI. Recorded on the Capstone Records CD HOWARD J. BUSS:MODERN available from Brixton. View on YouTube
Sound Samples: # 1.mp3, # 2.mp3, # 3.mp3, # 4.mp3
DREAM SEQUENCE (1987) for trombone (or euphonium) and 4 percussion by Howard J. Buss was inspired by Carl Sagans poetic observation about dreams: Late at night, when it is very still and the obligatory dreams have been dreamt, the gazelles and dragons begin to stir. Subdued, mystical sections contrast with energetic and rhythmic episodes in a manner resembling a progression of dreams. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Marimba, celesta (muted orchestra bells may be substituted), suspended cymbal, claves, & 2 cow bells; Perc. 2: Vibraphone, maracas, bass drum & temple blocks; Perc. 3: Orchestra bells, guiro & 2 suspended cymbals; Perc. 4: Chimes (tubular bells), bongos, wind chimes, tam-tam, triangle & lion roar. Worth programming and highly recommended. - Percussive Notes.
(10) View on YouTube Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3
ESCAPADE (1991) for alto sax and 4 percussion by Howard J. Buss explores a sequence of emotional states which develop over a talea, a fixed pattern of time values. Except during the extended sax cadenza, this repeating rhythmic pattern can be heard throughout the work in varying degrees of intensity. At times it is forcibly presented by the musicians moving in rhythmic unison. On other occasions the talea is fragmented and distributed among the players. Frequently this rhythmic pattern is embedded in the presentation of melodic material similar to the technique of isorhythm as it was employed by 14th-century masters such as Machaut and de Vitry. The continuous variation of the unifying talea coupled with the works intriguing melodies and exotic timbral contrasts, make this an accessible and enjoyable concert work. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Timpani (4), temple blocks, snare drum and 2 suspended cymbals; Perc. 2: Orchestra bells, xylophone, maracas, triangle, 2 cow bells, suspended cymbal & chime tree; Perc. 3: Vibraphone, tam-tam, roto toms & claves; Perc. 4: Marimba, guiro & 2 suspended cymbals. By far the nights most memorable piece. - The Los Angeles (1130) Grade IV-V.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3 View on YouTube
MODERN TIMES (1995) for narrator, flute, and 4 percussion (words and music by Howard J. Buss) is a powerful and dramatic depiction of life in our time. Provocative, at times mystical, and occasionally humorous, this work addresses an eclectic range of subjects such as taxes, neglected children, team mascots, and the information glut. The tenor of Buss social commentary is somewhere between the witty jeering of Mark Twain and the pithy insights of Sinclair Lewis. In his free verse one finds provocation without violence and intense anger without profanity. - The Tampa Tribune.
The sophisticated music of MODERN TIMES transports the poetry into the dramatic and colorful sound world of the flute and percussion ensemble. The result is a unique and fresh view of the culture(s) in which we live.
The writing is mature and fresh, yet is within reach of a solid college ensemble. - George Frock, Percussive Notes Magazine. This work is well-paced, colorful and accessible to audiences not familiar with complex percussion literature.This is truly one of the finest works in our idiom. Robert McCormick, Florida Percussive News
The 8 movements may be performed individually or in smaller groupings. Recorded on the Capstone Records CD HOWARD J. BUSS:MODERN TIMES available from Brixton.
I. Info Glut (3:34) Sound Sample.mp3
II. Night Tide (2:49) Sound Sample.mp3
III. The Hunt (4:14) Sound Sample.mp3
IV. Five Question Interlude (3:01) Sound Sample.mp3
V. The Asphalt Blanket (3:11) Sound Sample.mp3
VI. To a Neglected Child (5:25) Sound Sample.mp3
VII. Giggles!?! (1:57) Sound Sample.mp3
VIII. Modern Times (5:26) Sound Sample#1.mp3; Sound Sample#2.mp3
Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Xylophone, lion roar, tam-tam, vibraslap, 2 suspended cymbals, Chinese bell tree & bongos; Perc. 2: Marimba, snare drum, bass drum, 2 anvils (metal pipes may be substituted), glass jug or jars (to be broken for the sonic effect), conga drum, wind chimes & triangle; Perc. 3: Vibes, roto toms, tambourine, tam-tam, police whistle, shaker, duck call; Perc. 4: Orchestra bells, timpani (4), agogo bells, 2 suspended cymbals, hi-hat, wind chimes, wood block, frog croak (may be imitated vocally), boing box effect (a flexitone may be substituted), triangle & guiro. (30) Grade V.
MYSTERIOUS EXIT (1993) for flute and 4 percussion by Howard J. Buss. The title refers to the inexplicable disappearance of the 14th Century Sinagua Indians who inhabited an area in what is now the State of Arizona. This composition was inspired by the composers visit to the Sinagua pueblo ruins and is a musical representation of how the Sinaguan culture graced the austere and forbidding landscape of the region. The central section of the piece exhibits some of the intriguing rhythmic asymmetry found in Hopi dance songs. Recorded on the CD Premiers Vol. I available from Brixton.
Sound Sample#1.mp3, Sound Sample#2.mp3 Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Orchestra bells, temple blocks, 2 suspended cymbals, rattle & wind chimes; Perc. 2: Marimba & suspended cymbal; Perc. 3: Xylophone & suspended cymbal; Perc. 4: Vibraphone, tom tom, sleigh bells, rattle, 2 suspended cymbals & a bell tree. (1130) Grade IV. View on YouTube
OVERTURE FOR PERCUSSION (2003) by Howard J. Buss for percussion quartet was composed for Juan Ponsoda and the OSA Quartet de Percussio of Spain. It is an exciting romp through vigorous, yet intricate passages. Each percussionist performs on several different instruments and all have significant solo passages. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Xylophone, 2 suspended cymbals & bongos; Perc. 2: Vibes, tambourine & tom toms (5); Perc. 3: Marimba, chimes (tubular bells), 2 suspended cymbals, tam-tam & temple blocks; Perc. 4: Marimba, timpani (3) & 2 suspended cymbals. This is a great concert opener. A traditionally oriented quartet with a lively Polynesian/Oriental flavor, its contrapuntal melodies overlap and dovetail beautifully, as gracious cymbal swells connect each phrase and change of instrument.- Percussive Notes. (6) Grade V. Recorded on the Capstone Records CD HOWARD J. BUSS:MODERN available from Brixton. View on YouTube
Score Sample.pdf; Percussion Set-up Chart.pdf
Sound Sample#1.mp3; Sound Sample#2.mp3; Sound Sample#3.mp3
REFLECTIVE JOURNEY for horn and percussion quartet by Howard J. Buss is dedicated to hornist Andrew Pelletier and percussionist Roger Schupp. The musical thrust of this colorful work is analogous to a spiritual voyage one may experience while dealing with a major crisis. The sections of the composition exude much contrast and transverse a wide range of moods - from the hauntingly pensive, to tender lyricism, to jubilation. (14’40”) Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3
Percussion Set-up.pdf; Score Sample.pdf; Solo part sample.pdf
SCI-FI PERCUSSIVES for twelve percussion by Howard J. Buss is a riveting fantasy in 3 movements: Prelude to Contact, Alien Probes & Aggressions. I have always been fascinated by the human ability to disregard the tangible in order to embrace the intangible. Whether the intangibility involves the belief in a Deity, the enthusiastic acceptance of a conspiracy theory, or being engrossed in a movie about something as implausible as a Martian invasion, a leap of faith is required to enter the magical realm of the imagination. - Howard J. Buss
Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Orchestra bells, conga drum & 2 suspended cymbals; Perc. 2: Xylophone & wood block; Perc. 3: Marimba; Perc. 4: bongos, 2 suspended cymbals, slapstick, air raid siren; Perc. 5: Vibes; Perc. 6: Marimba; Perc. 7: Timpani (4), cowbell & crotales (one octave); Perc. 8: Roto toms, tam-tam, lion roar, bass drum, maracas, 2 suspended cymbals, triangle, bell tree, snare drum & hi-hat; Perc. 9: Orchestra bells, tubular bells (chimes), sleigh bells, guiro, temple blocks & maracas, Perc. 10: xylophone & snare drum; Perc. 11: Marimba; Perc. 12: Bongos, 2 suspended cymbals & ratchet.
Score samples: Mvt.1 Prelude to Contact.pdf,, Mvt.2 Alien Probes.pdf, Mvt.3 Aggressions.pdf, Percussion Set-up Chart.pdf
Sound samples: Mov.#1.mp3, Mov.#2.mp3, Sample A, Mov.#3.mp3, Sample B, Mov.#3.mp3
On stage the percussionists are arranged into 3 quartets. Each group consists of a set of pitched and non-pitched instruments. For the most part, the positioning of the players is for the sake of balance; however, there are sections in the music where the parts are choreographed for special sonic and visual effects.This music appeals to all types of audiences: the music is sophisticated , yet because of its programmatic nature and the dazzling and powerful musical imagery, it will speak to anyone who still has a pulse! If you are looking for a large-scale ensemble work (comprised approximately of 75% keyboard percussion) with some parts which will challenge your best players, and other parts that will accommodate your Freshmen - this is it! (18) Grade V.
YouTube videos: Sci-Fi Percussives: I. Prelude to Contact, Sci-Fi Percussives: II. Alien Probes
and Sci-Fi Percussives: III. Aggressions
SPANISH MEMOIRS (2004) for solo trumpet & percussion quartet by Howard J. Buss is characterized by spicy, zesty Latin rhythms juxtaposed with soaring lyrical melodies hugely influenced by jazz. The music is both accessible and sophisticated, audiences love it! Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: vibes, snare drum, conga drum, tambourine & wood block; Perc. 2: marimba, sand blocks & claves; Perc. 3: marimba & guiro; Perc. 4: marimba, bass drum, 2 suspended cymbals, bongos, maracas & tam-tam. (10) Grade V. "...sure to be applauded by soloist, ensemble and audience alike. A melodious trumpet part, an animated accompaniment featuring toe-tapping rhythms, some flashy mallet playing, and the influences of the jazz and Latin idioms will go a long way to ensure the success of this piece." - John R. Raush, Percussive Notes - June 2005.Recorded on the CD Spanish Memoirs by Diego Arias and Yu-Jung Chung et al (available from IBS Classical). score sample.pdf, performance notes.pdf
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3, Excerpt 2.mp3, Excerpt 3.mp3, Excerpt 4.mp3
SPECTRUM (2015) for bass clarinet and percussion quartet by Howard J. Buss was written for clarinetist Keith Koons and the University of Central Florida Percussion Ensemble. The structure of this one-movement work is suggestive of a journey through a sequence of colorful sonic landscapes. This composition is a showcase for the bass clarinet as well as the percussion ensemble. The music uses the entire practical range of the bass clarinet, exploring its impressive array of expressive capabilities. From the haunting beauty its low register to the agile brilliance of its upper range, this work reveals the great diversity of moods that can be created with the instrument as well the salient technical characteristics that distinguish it from the other woodwinds. The percussion ensemble, even when used as an accompaniment for the soloist, employs a wide array of timbres and textures. An undercurrent of energy and suspense is added to the musical tapestry as a result of the inherent tension between the soloist and the potentially overpowering might of the percussion battery. (13’50”) Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3, Excerpt 2.mp3, Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3; Excerpt 5 (the ending).mp3
THUNDER ROLL for three percussion & piano by Zack Browning in 2 movements: Night Visions is a slow and ethereal with much dramatic contrast. Day Attack is fast-paced in which rhythmic displacement and mixed meters create a compelling style reminiscent of the music of Bartok. Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Vibraphone, snare drum & suspended cymbal; Perc. 2: Triangle, tam-tam, bass drum, glockenspiel, xylophone & roto toms; Perc. 3: Timpani (4). This is a well-written piece with audience appeal. - Percussive Notes Magazine (10) Grade V-VI YouTube performances: "Night Visions", and "Day Attack"
Sound Samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3
WHERE NOW RUSTS THE IRON? (1994) Version for high voice, flute, cello and 6 percussion by Howard J. Buss is a dramatic tribute to the composers grandfather who, like many ironworkers in his day, worked under brutal conditions with the dream of making life better for future generations. A moving work touching our communal soul. (8) Grade IV-V.
Voice and piano version score sample: Excerpt.pdf
Voice, flute, cello, & 6 percussion version score sample: Excerpt.pdf
Percussion distribution: Perc. 1: Timpani (4), orchestra bells, tubular bells (shared with perc. 2) & finger cymbals; Perc. 2: two anvils (metal pipes may be substituted) & tubular bells (shared with perc. 1: Perc.3: Xylophone & suspended cymbal; Perc. 4: Vibes & suspended cymbal; Perc. 5: marimba; Perc. 6: two suspended cymbals, tam-tam, wind chimes & bell tree. Perc. Set-up Chart .pdf Text: Where Now Rusts the Iron?
Homes now stand where once the foundry coughed.
Countless tons of iron -
wheels and pans,
boilers and pipes,
latches and plates.
Countless train loads of hardware
shrieked from the pounding, grimy world within.
Iron converted from life itself,
energy given form.
Precious moments, days, and years
poured into molds and sealed
amid the ashes and dust,
always ashes and dust,
suspended in life-stealing air.
The graves of the workers overlook this place,
their famlies spread afar.
Season come and go, yet frozen in memry
are the days of youth spent in toil, hope, and purpose.
Where now rusts the iron once cast by pounding hearts,
releasing the dreams, the souls,
invested in tough, cold metal?
The foundry still stands among the houses,
coughing on smoke-laden air.
Invisible as the iron once made,
its souls as mist remains. - Howard J. Buss ; Copyright © 1994 by Brixton Publications
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