Art of War
A symphony exploring the perspectives of soldiers, weaponry, and the collision of civilizations. Animating a three-movement symphonic structure are original field recordings of weapons tests made with the US Marines; elements of American and Iraqi folk music; and the printing presses of the US Treasury.
Conductor's Score and Performance Parts for RENTAL ONLY. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a rental application form.
orchestra & electronica - Approximate Duration: 25'
Art of War is a symphony exploring the drama of human conflict from the perspectives of soldiers, weaponry, and human loss. Animating a three-movement symphonic structure are original field recordings of weapons tests; elements of American and Iraqi folk music; and the printing presses of the US Treasury.
If the sound of money being created seems a surprising place to open a martial symphony, consider that "Money As a Weapons System" is an actual US military handbook describing the use of money to achieve military goals. Special access granted by the US Treasury's Bureau of Engraving & Printing took me before giant, strange machines clattering endless sheets of money into being. Lurching rhythms created from these sounds integrate with quicksilver, caffeinated musical textures that glitter like coins from a slot machine – only to spin wildly out of control over the course of the movement. Weaponized money becomes both powerful and unpredictable, and this can be heard in the way the opening’s glistening minimalism whizzes into highly complex webs shattered by quick cuts.
“Two Worlds” explores the perspectives of two soldiers through the folk music of their cultures. Over an ambient re-imagination of American blues, a fiddle sings a melancholic tune; thousands of miles away, a bent melody floats over a drone, informed by the modes of the Arabic maqam. These worlds seem so distant, yet over the course of the movement, the two merge, connected by the soulful "blue notes" that inform both folk traditions – a musical tribute to the hope that diverse cultures can be "stronger together." The movement was inspired by the touching story of American soldier Dylan Park, who befriended an Iraqi translator while serving in Iraq. Years later, they encountered each other by chance in Phoenix. Dylan, who had recently mourned the passing of his brother, felt like he had "lost one brother, but found another."
This coming together is interrupted, however, by a distant march that takes us onto the battlefield, building to a propulsive fanfare punctuated by the the sounds of mortar fire and canons (recorded at Camp Pendleton, where my brother served as the captain of a mortar platoon). The musical materials of the piece shatter in a cacophony of explosions. Emerging from the clearing smoke in the final minutes of the symphony, the sounds of the Arabic adhan (call to prayer) mix with those of a US military funeral. Drifting into this poignant soundscape, the two folk melodies weave together one final time.
Special thanks to First Marine Expeditionary Force; First Marine Division, 11th Marines; Second Battalion, First Marines; Maj. Matthew Hilton and the Entertainment Media Liaison Office; Marine Corps Installations West; Camp Pendleton Range Control; Lt. Col. Steven Sutey and Capt. Robley Bates. Additional thanks to Lydia Washington at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing in Washington DC.
3 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo and alto flute)
3 oboes (2nd doubling English Horn)
3 clarinets (2nd doubling Eb Clarinet)
3 Bassoons (3rd doubling Contrabassoon)
4 Horns in F
4 Trumpets in C