"Brass Energy" by Barry Forgie
The "Brass Energy" Suite by Barry Forgie reflects the relationship between Man and Energy over the years. The concept for the Energy Suite was created in 2011 by Surrey Brass founder when there was some talk about the looming "energy crisis", long before Greta Thunberg dominated the world media to raise widespread awareness of Climate Change. At the time, John had no idea quite how to reflect his concept in music. Purely by chance, John was invited to play for a Big Band rehearsal at Kingswood Village Club one Saturday morning, and got chatting to Barry who was leading (and a decade later still leads) the band. It did not take long to work out that brass ensembles could offer a new way to perform big band jazz, truly living up to the "innovative and entertaining" Surrey Brass motto. And so the concept became a reality, thanks to Barry's composing talent and the sponsorship of RC Sherriff Trust.
Barry Forgie's music is growing every more vital to draw attention to this serious global issue that affects everyone today. There is plenty of contrast between the five movements and mixes classical, jazz, and original styles to produce a very listenable 25 minutes of music. The music is scored for large brass ensemble, with bass guitar, drum kit and percussion.
|Download the Brass Energy Premier Concert Programme (PDF)
Commissioned in 2012 by Surrey Brass, with the support of the RC Sherriff Trust.
Dictated by Barry Forgie in 2012
Steam opens the suite since it contains two vital things, pistons, and the feelings of a child. When Forgie was a child train spotter in his home town of Peterborough he often saw the “great streaks” like Mallard flash past, and in this piece tries to depict the rhythm of these massive machines. He cunningly sets up a pattern and drive and builds from this underlying rock feel to depict the inexorable pattern of a steam engine. The second theme is based on the blues, is superimposed on the first with harmonic use of the whole tone scale to provide contrasting machinery sounds. The theme is on tuba and bass trombone to reflect the feelings of a small boy in the presence of these massive monster machines. The piece ends the journey with the train coming to a halt in a station with some rather fantastic special effects of hissing steam.
The scene opens in the jungle with all kinds of animals calling to one another! The cacophony subsides to reveal a soft lilting tune that alternates 5/8 and 3/4 time - because Barry wanted to create a tune to the words “hippo-pot-a-mus wal-lk-ing”! The trumpets use bucket mutes to create a soft and subdued sound. A contrapuntal section follows with all the animal noises in the crowd reflecting that all animals are genetically linked and the answering phrases depict that linkage.
The charm of the tune is the contrast between time signatures, never going into a stable pattern, in contrast to all the other movements. All animals move in different ways and this movement reflects that. The piece ends in 7/8, a favourite of Forgie’s who has written many pieces in this time signature including a unique arrangement of “Fascinating Rhythm” by George Gershwin for Lee Gibson – she was the only person who could ever sing it!
Most of Oil is concerned with cars and vehicles of various kinds. The opening street scene reflects the pulse of the street with a horn riff made to feel rather unreal with chords with deliberately “misplaced” root notes reflecting the feeling of not really knowing what is going on together with more built in confusion from texture and time sequence. The only thread holding it all together is the tune on the piccolo trumpet – and then the scene changes. The horns represent the hubbub in the street whilst the piccolo trumpet is a lone voice that can be distinguished – but it keeps getting g interrupted. Trumpet blares imitate klaxons whilst a heavy swing feel introduces a flash guy in a big sports car showing off. You might spot the theme tune from a very well known oilman’s TV serial at this point! The music gradually builds to a massive car crash, and this is mashed up by a posse of Hells’ Angels on their motorbikes realistically portrayed by the trombones. The quietness following the crash is broken by descending fourths in the tuba and effects reminiscent of tinkling glass and machinery winding down. Distant sirens are heard before the street gradually recovers from this trauma, with the piccolo lone voice reappearing. Gradually everything gets back to normal and the piece ends quietly as the traffic fades away.
The calmness of recycled energy from wind, sea and sun reflect the natural phenomena and energy of the planet, not man and animals. The piece starts with muted trumpets depicting the natural and gentle sea and wind. Sun, wind, and ocean are used to portray the ancient art of sailing. The theme is a haunting repeating figure with wind chimes in a major 7th arpeggio emphasised by light percussion.
This piece refers to many aspects of nuclear energy both benign and malevolent, reflecting the movement and interaction of atoms. A special effect is created to mimic human cries using mouthpieces without the instrument as a contrast to normal playing. A persistent bass riff drives the piece on and on with a jolly tune representing the benefits of nuclear power – but then it all goes horribly wrong with the expected build up turning into a massive explosion. The aftermath portrays a bleak post-apocalyptic vision with human cries being interspersed with echoes of the previous movements – are traditional ways the best? Gradually mankind recovers from this disaster and the piece builds once more to a triumphant and optimistic ending to the Energy Suite.
Listen to the music
Composed and Conducted by Barry Forgie, and recorded live at its premiere on 24th November 2012, at the Vera Fletcher Hall, Thames Ditton, Performed by Surrey Brass.
Enjoy sound samples from Brass Energy movements to get an impression of the diversity and creativity of this music by Barry Forgie.
|Brass Energy Movements
Watch the Video
The first movement of the "Brass Energy" by Barry Forgie: "Steam" recorded live at its premiere on 24th November 2012, at the Vera Fletcher Hall, Thames Ditton, Performed by Surrey Brass.
Composed and Conducted by Barry Forgie, Images and sequencing by John Goodwin. Available on YouTube.
Brass Energy Sheet Music and more
Buy the sheet music
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