Descent into Flatland
for brass quintet
Instrumentation: two Bb (or C) trumpets, trombone, horn, tuba (or bass trombone)
The title of "Descent Into Flatland" is a reference to the book "Flatland." Written by Edwin Abbott, a mathematician in the late 19th century, it describes the journey of a being from a two-dimensional realm into a world of three-dimensions. Then, by analogy, it suggests what a four-dimensional universe might be like. The book is also a satire of social order. A two-dimensional being's prestige increases with the number of sides it has: triangles are servants, squares are merchants, pentagons are priests, and so on. I musically depicted Flatland with a combination of irreconcilable contrasts, satirical references, and broad expansive gestures. Several distinct musical characters are presented in both a soloistic and an ensemble context. Like the boundaries that separate the dimensions, these characters always remain distinct. They combine only by means of superimposition in the concluding bars of the piece, a passage suggesting the multi-dimensional complexity of life.
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Performance by WestEast Brass Quintet, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. November, 2013.