Caldwell, Deborah Ashton
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Between the years 2001 and 2014, John Adams, Mohammed Fairouz, Amy Scurria, and Eric Ewazen wrote five works commemorating September 11th, 2001. Although they are in five different genres, each of these works contain a prominent lyric trumpet solo. This study showcases reasons why the trumpet is chosen in works about tragedy and highlights compositional techniques utilized to showcase the trumpet’s expressive qualities. These two questions of why and how will guide the discussion. One of the main reasons that the trumpet is used is found in the powerful meaning behind Taps and other bugle calls in America. This bugle and military tradition has culminated in the idiomatic use of fourths and fifths in trumpet writing. The timbre of the trumpet also carries patriotic and spiritual themes: Hector Berlioz describes the trumpet’s timbre as “noble and brilliant. It is suitable in expressing martial splendor, cries of fury and vengeance as well as chants of triumph; it can render vigorous, violent and lofty feelings as well as most tragic accents.” Aaron Copland suggests that “[a composer] chooses the instrument with the tone color that best expresses the meaning behind his idea.” Additionally, many theorists have suggested that other musical parameters (meter, tempo, register, harmony, melody, rhythm, dynamics, texture) can suggest specific emotions and passions. Each of the five pieces in this study contain a combination of tragic, lyric, and bugle characteristics that reinforce the mournful nature of the works. The pieces include On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams, Symphony No. 4: In the Shadow of No Towers by Mohammed Fairouz, Hagar’s Prayer by Amy Scurria, Aftershock by Eric Ewazen, and A Hymn for the Lost and the Living by Eric Ewazen, arranged for trumpet and piano by Chris Gekker.