Title: Song of the Tides
Year Completed: 2006
Duration: 10 mins
Instrumentation: Concert Band or Wind Ensemble and electronic soundscape
Credits: Commissioned for Mark Hopkins and the Acadia University Wind Ensemble with assistance from the Canadian Music Centre
Premiere: 21/10/2006, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS; Acadia University Wind Ensemble, Conductor: Mark Hopkins

Purchase/Rent: Canadian Music Centre

"Song of the Tides" for concert band and pre-recorded sounds of the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia's South Shore. The work is in two movements #1 Low Tide and #2 High Tide. The first or second movements can be played on their own, or the two movements can be joined to create a longer work. The work is aimed towards younger players in Junior or Senior High School, as well as College and University ensembles.

The first movement is designed as workshop material that can be extracted and used by the band director as teaching material or for a class project. Students are asked to listen to the provided soundtrack that accompanies this movement and discover ways in which to imitate these sounds on their instruments. A selected group of soloists, or the entire ensemble, improvises over the soundtrack using sounds they have discovered. An additional option requires that students discover a way to notate these sounds using graphic notation and then create a score. This component of the composition will be different every time it is performed and allows the band some ownership of the score! Movement 2 "High Tide" is fully composed and introduces extended techniques for younger players including glissandos, aeolian (air and breath) sounds, aleatoric notations and tapping on the bell of the instrument. A pre-recorded sound track plays only periodically during this movement.

The sound track includes wind, water, foghorns, seagulls and the sound of the tide roaring through the entrance of the Minas Basin at the tip of Cape Split, Nova Scotia. Students are introduced to soundscapes, electroacoustic composition, graphic notation and improvisation. Pre-recorded sounds are played back on a CD player or using a laptop computer. The main body of the second movement consists of typical pandiatonic harmony and melody used in conjunction with acousmatic soundscapes.  This allows the student to hear the use of 'traditional' band writing in conjunction with deeper listening soundscapes. Computers are increasingly important to the creation of music therefore incorporation of musique concrète underscores a crucial facet of contemporary teaching practice by integrating technology in formative years of musical studies.

Extended techniques are used as a teaching device aimed towards strengthening traditional performance practice.  For example during the second movement almost all instruments must glissando down a step and return to the original pitch at some point in the composition. This teaches tuning and intonation - ideally when the student returns to the starting pitch intonation and tone improves as a result of 'finding the pitch'. Aeolian and breath sounds, blowing air in and out of the instrument at slow and regular intervals, helps increase awareness of the students breathing. Ranges of instruments have been deliberately left in an easier tessitura and melodic lines are more conjunct than disjunct.  Instruments should avoid doubling a cue when the cued instrument is present in the ensemble in order to achieve the fullest pallet of colours available to the ensemble.


Media: CD player / or computer, Mixer and 2 Monitors

Flute 1
Flute 2
Flute 3
Oboes 1, 2
Clarinet 1
Clarinet 2
Clarinet 3
Bass Clarinet
Alto Sax 1
Alto Sax 2
Tenor Sax
Bari Sax
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Trumpet 3
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Trombone 3
Baritone B.C. or T.C.

3 or more percussionists

NOTE: Instrumentation is flexible, ossia parts are notated in the score for any missing instruments.

derek charke song of the tides

Mark Hopkins and Derek Charke recording sounds for Song of the Tides at Halls Harbour Nova Scotia: