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Beneath the Sunless Sky

Beneath the
Sunless Sky
Jeremy Bell

On a warm, sunny day, as a cool breeze starts to move in, dark clouds loom on the horizon. Swiftly moving in, the sun disappears behind a sky now covered with a black curtain.  Flashes of light streak across the sky like the branches of a tree and thunder bellows in the distance.  You start to count between the lightning and thunder to find out how far away the storm is - “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi,...”  You have the TV turned to the local news so that you can listen to how serious the developing storm is while the lights flicker on and off.  The sirens haven’t started to sound yet; so you wait for the turbulence to escalate outside.

Having grown up in the Midwest, the description above was a fairly common occurrence in the spring and summer months.  Beneath the Sunless Sky tries to depict the growth and power behind these storms.  An ocean drum, rain stick, and thunder tubes are used to mimic the sound of rain falling and a driving ostinato makes a fun, challenging rhythmic figure played throughout the band a great teaching opportunity.  

Beneath the Sunless Sky is a piece for young band depicting an afternoon/early evening thunderstorm and tornado. As the sun disappears behind a curtain of dark clouds, rain begins to fall and thunder bellows in the distance. Sirens can be heard wailing in the distance, screaming their warning cry to take shelter. The piece begins with a Trombone soli as an ocean drum mimics the sound of falling rain and thunder tubes drone out the low rumble echoing in the heavens. As the storm moves closer, the anticipation grows, and the opening D Phrygian transitions to G minor where the primary rhythmic ostinato and driving melodic motive are introduced.

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