Analysis Of Xerxes By John Mackey

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The next musical work performed by the Alabama Concert Band was entitled Xerxes by John Mackey. This piece begins in a very disjointed and seemingly unappealing way, as the low brass and percussion begin with a homophonic rhythm. The tempo is one of moderato, as it is not fast, yet all slow either. All of the notes are staccato and separate from neighboring notes, which creates a sound that may seem strange or odd at first listen. It is written in a chromatic key, with no clear major or minor tonality. After the homophonic beginning of unison rhythms, Xerxes transitions into a monophonic woodwind feature that weaves its way through the flutes, clarinets, and saxophones. After this another monophonic flute solo takes precedence with a …show more content…
The disjointed, staccato notes aid in this interpretation along with the metallic and cold sounds coming from the percussion section. While the piece has the sounds of a twenty-first century creation, the name Xerxes actually may refer to Xerxes I, a king of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. The overall feelings associated with the piece still apply, however, as the piece may symbolize a great ruler preparing for war. The nobility of the brass section and forte to fortissimo dynamics of the work also aid in reaffirming this meaning. After the initial brass features, however, the piece focuses in on this idea of a past ruler of a foreign land, as the woodwind solos present modalities that are not common in Western …show more content…
This piece begins with a tranquil woodwind choir with other instruments gradually joining in. The tempo is andante, as it is moderately slow, yet more of a simple pace. This work takes advantage of dynamics heavily, as it varies from pianissimo with a solo flute to a gorgeous and strong fortissimo dynamic of the whole ensemble. This piece also varies in texture quite a bit, as it alternates between monophonic soloist sections and grand homophonic sections of the whole band. Most of the melodic lines are smooth and legato, yet are disrupted by the pointed and staccato figures of the percussion section that underscore the longer lines of the wind instruments. The key of this piece is major, as it expresses feelings of joy and simple happiness. For a short bit, the piece does vary its texture to polyphonic, as the low brass section takes the melody while the woodwinds and upper brass fill in other parts on top of this. The piece finally concludes with a last grand statement of the theme at a fortissimo dynamic, giving it a sense of finality to the beautiful

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