For concert band and CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter)
Twisted Shout for concert band and CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter)
Commissioned and premiered at IMEC on January 29, 2022 by the Lockport Township High School Band, Brian Covey: Conductor and Director
2 flutes – piccolo/flute 3 – oboe – English horn – bassoon (cross-cued)
3 Bb clarinets – bass clarinet – soprano saxophone – 2 alto saxophones – tenor saxophone – baritone saxophone 3 Bb trumpets – 4 French horns – 3 tenor trombones – bass trombone
euphonium – tuba
timpani – piano – double bass
mallets (2 players): marimba, vibes, xylophone
percussion 1: sand blocks, wood block, cymb a2, sus. cymb., snare drum, triangle
percussion 2: snare drum
percussion 3 & 4: bass drum, sus. cymb.
I’ve noticed recently that almost every news announcement made on TV has a signer on it, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This has become a lot more prevalent in recent months/years. It has got me to thinking about how all of us who can hear get the information first, with the signers delivering it just a bit later for those who need it. And this led me to think: what if that were reversed? What if somehow we were to deliver information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community first – to prioritize them – and then it would get to the rest of us next? We would actually use music as the vehicle for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Inspired by my own teenage children, I started listening to a particular rap-song, and I loved it.
It’s called: “I was sad last night I’m ok now” – by Tobi Lou. What I noticed were the lyrics (of course), but the song was “orchestrated” so well. I was entranced by it. There’s never a dull moment. And so I found myself influenced by that music when beginning this piece, and it started me thinking about the signer-aspect. I thought: What if a piece, somewhat hip-hop in nature, were to have a signer deliver the lyrics first, while the music is playing, and then it would be echoed by a live rapper?
They would be onstage as the “soloists”. The audience would see the signing, and then would hear the text next. The piece could work without any of that, because the focus for a composer should always be first on the music. Musically, the piece is almost like Bach meeting hip-hop. Not quite Bach, of course, but the contrapuntal lines are crucial, and in my opinion, great for high school players to learn/experience, composed over-top of some fun orchestration.
Also, I went to Lockport High School for my freshman year. Which is why this collaboration is extra special. I missed out on being in the Ferris Bueller movie, where the band was awarded a cameo appearance, because I had moved on to Interlochen by then. But all my old friends are in it.
The song featured that included the LTHS band was Twist and Shout. Thanks to a suggestion from someone on Facebook – though they didn’t know my musical ideas – I was given the idea of calling the piece “Twisted Shout”. That title could still reference what it’s like to be a teenager, where you’re trying to find a way to have your voice heard, a “twisted shout” almost. And even for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, that title might have reference. Where “trying to be heard” represents an entirely new set of challenges for them. To represent the sort of confusion one might experience with hearing difficulties, the mid-section of the piece is almost like being at a public event with many things happening at once, and how difficult it must be to sort through it all and to focus on any one thing. I have witnessed this with my mother-in-law firsthand. The fight-song that weaves its way in and out of this commotion is the old LTHS fight-song, of course, and the drum-cadences I still recall from my one year at school there.
My most sincere thanks to Brian Covey at Lockport High School for reaching out to me, and entrusting me to write whatever I wanted. It’s this sort of collaborative spirit which allows me to be curious and
create a piece I might otherwise not have.