I submit the title “Deed of Prowess” for this piece—written in 2010 for the Sax Quartet studio at UNC—because I hear in it something like the following narrative:The four horns enter sequentially, as if four independent agents find each other and form a fellowship based on some common perception—in this case the Opening Theme of the piece. The texture and energy gradually intensify, demonstrating the “power” of the newly formed union. After this, the energy subsides for an interlude of quiet banter. As if resting latent, the quartet waits for an opportunity to demonstrate its might. There is a false alarm, and then a return to jesting. Finally the opportunity comes and the group explodes into action. The energy-level is highest of all, and a sense of forceful intentionality is reflected by the speed, volume, dissonance, and repeating patterns of the music. There is a hostile engagement, and the imaginary opponent is soon wrestled to the ground and defeated. After an exultation of triumph, the Opening Theme of the quartet is presented with a sense of reserved confidence that the foregoing process has made possible. Victory is claimed and the music comes to rest.
Latent within the pure music and its abstract formal construction, I believe, stories like this lie, and make the music more meaningful. This narrative reflects my own perspective of the music, but listeners can bring their own imagination to the task of interpreting what these sounds mean.