Don’t let the SCF Symphonic Band fool you, this music may be unbelievable, but it is true! Featuring band works such as Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, Voodoo, Snakes, and more, this concert will have you fooled into thinking you have entered a new reality. Fun, scary, and unbelievable!
If you are a member of the SCF family (student, staff, or faculty member), you may join us live and in person (up to 100 people) in the Neel Performing Arts Center, free of charge, on Thursday, April 1 at 7:30 PM – email email@example.com to get your name on the attendee list.
If you are a guest to the campus, join us for free on the SCF Music Facebook page on the same date and time (Thursday, April 1 at 7:30 PM) to enjoy the concert.
• Tom Duffy Website & Facebook & Instagram
• Eric Whitacre Website & Facebook
• Daniel Bukvich Website & Facebook
• Sir Malcolm Arnold Website
• SCF Music Program Facebook Page Link to watch the concert live
• SCF Foundation Donate2Music Link to donate to the SCF Music Program
• Text Code to donate to the SCF Music Program: Text "SCFMUSIC" to 41444
• State College of Florida Music Program Website & Facebook & Instagram
Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)
Robyn Bell: One of the things that I've always enjoyed about my job as a conductor is the process of planning a concert, choosing a music that will be performed and bringing the entire concept alive through the rehearsal preparation and performance process. And I'm here to tell you I've done a lot of concert planning over the past 22 years. Some concert ideas come very easily and the music that is chosen, it's like a no brainer. While others take a bit more thought and research and planning. But this year when I looked at the calendar and I realized. I could have a concert on Thursday, April 1st, April Fool's Day. This little pea brain of mine went nuts. It was as if I had just drank an entire bottle of Mountain Dew, we could play this piece. We could play that piece. We can do this piece. It was a bit frenetic to say the least. So the concert is in my head. The music selections are all rolling around up there. And then it comes a day when I meet with the Symphonic Band for the first time. And I say, we're going to be performing this piece. And this piece and this piece, if for this particular concert, the titles of the pieces really didn't strike a chord with the players well except for maybe one. But when I passed out the music and they saw the chart and graph, they were like, Whoa, because part of this learning process for the student musicians for this particular concert was to learn how to read very modern music notation. Some of these composers use very avant-garde symbols and instructions. The musicians have to sing in some parts, scream and other parts. They take their instruments apart and blow on tiny little pieces of their instruments. One student has to bark like a dog for several measures, one pieces. Played in complete darkness and the musicians use flashlights and certain rhythms to create this visual texture that you would never expect from a symphonic band. So the interest lies in playing the music well as always, but this particular concert has this added dimension for the players of doing all this new and different and quite frankly, fun techniques, many of which you just won't believe, which brings me to the theme of this concert. April Fool's Day, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas and Other Music You Won't Believe. And here with me today to share their experiences with this music over the past nine weeks, are three student musicians from the Symphonic Band. I wanted you to get the perspective from a woodwind player, a brass player, and a percussionist. So we have Sean Jatich and Alto saxophonist. Yadira Gonzalez, a trumpeter and Alex Town's a percussionist, Sean Yadira and Alex. Welcome to the club.
Alex Town: Thanks.
Robyn Bell: So first let me run down the titles of the selections for our listeners. We have a piece called Snakes, one called Voodoo. There's the piece Tam O'Shanter. The oldest piece on the program is Variations on America by Charles Ives and then there's a symphony for band called Symphony Number One, a Memoriam for Dresden. And then the namesake of the program, Eric Whitaker's Godzilla Eats Las Vegas. Quickly, each of you tell me your favorite piece of those six that were playing. Alex?
Alex Town: Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.
Yadira Gonzalez: I agree with Alex, Godzilla,
Robyn Bell: Sean.
Sean Jatich: I agree.
Robyn Bell: Also all three of you Godzilla Eats Las Vegas and I'll sneak in here. It's my favorite one to conduct. So I guess we're all in agreement. We're going to talk about that piece in detail. Alex as the percussionist here in the room, and we should say there are five other percussionists and they are very busy on every piece. It's kind of a nuthouse back there in the back of the stage. What are some of the new or different instruments or techniques you guys and gals back there have had to master?
Alex Town: We've had to learn how to play trashcan lids as cymbals.
Robyn Bell: That's a mess.
Alex Town: BB's in a metal bowl to make like a swishing sound, which has a, I've never seen it.
Robyn Bell: Literally. We had to get BB's like for BB guns and put them in a metal bowl, you move it around and it makes the sound effect.
Alex Town: We had to construct a new instrument. Basically. We took a floor tom.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Like from a drum set. Okay.
Alex Town: And we took the bottom head off the floor tom kept the top one on poked a hole in the top with a needle or a pen, and then took along string and then tied a knot on the end so that we could. Pull it and it would try to sound like a lion's roar.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Right. And they don't even, make lions roars. So we had to create one. And when you pull that string through that hole, it does not like, and even though it's called a lion's roar, it is supposed to represent
Alex Town: Godzilla.
Robyn Bell: Godzilla. Yeah. And the French horns. Also every time the lions roar in the percussion section gets pulled the French horns do this thing. And literally. Doesn't it sound like Godzilla.
Sean Jatich: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: It's a really, really cool sound effect. What about a thing called a marching machine. Had you ever any one of those before?
Alex Town: I had not seen a marching machine before, it's the first time I've ever seen or heard of one?
Robyn Bell: How would you describe a marching machine to someone just listening?
Alex Town: Well, , I'd say it's like a square frame with string attached at many places along the frame with little cylinders attached to those strings that are attached to the frame. Then when you hit it on the ground, it sounds like a army marching.
Robyn Bell: Yes, it really does. So when you hit it on the wood floor of the stage, cause all those little cylindrical wood pieces hitting at the same time. And while the percussion is playing the marching machine, the musicians in the band are stomping their feet. So it does sound like an army. And in this case, , we'll sort of let the cat out of the bag. It's an army of marching. Elvis is El VI coming into take down Godzilla. That's the story of Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, shout out to Eric Whitaker for this really cool piece. You get to play all kinds of different stuff back there. You're playing tympani. You're doing
Alex Town: Xylophone bells. Times' vibraphone. Bass drum.
Robyn Bell: You were all over the place. Yeah. Blocks. Yeah. It's a lot. Well, the percussion really add a lot to this concert. Now Yadira, the trumpets are asked to do some pretty crazy things, especially in Voodoo. We'll say Voodoo is the piece that's played in complete darkness. And we'll talk about that a little bit, but give us Yadira an example of something the music asks you to do. And when you read it, you went, Whoa.
Yadira Gonzalez: I would say that if we look at symphony number one,
Robyn Bell: Yes,
Yadira Gonzalez: We have to blow through our instrument without the mouthpiece, which is very odd at first, in my opinion.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Is the idea just to make this wind sounds like a storm kind of sound
Yadira Gonzalez: Correct.
Robyn Bell: Okay.
Yadira Gonzalez: And then there is snakes where we have to half of our murmur.
Robyn Bell: So on the trumpet, you just put the valves halfway down,
Yadira Gonzalez: put the valves halfway down, and then we have to play without making any distinct noises.
I wouldn't say,
Robyn Bell: Yeah. I mean, it does say half valve murmur or the instructions,
Yadira Gonzalez: and then we would change it to pitches to create different. Sounds effects, but none of it being anything too specific to an actual note
Robyn Bell: Now in voodoo, not all of the trumpets have to do this, but some of them have to take like the second valve slide out is very tiny. Right. And then what do they do with it?
Yadira Gonzalez: They blow into it creating a whistle sound and it creates like, a call in the jungle.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Yes. Cause there's a whole section in Voodoo where we're supposed to be a big jungle in the dark and kind of a scary thing and yeah, that's kind of cool. That even says, right, Sean, you guys have to wave your arms above your head
Sean Jatich: While half of us are chanting. Yes.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Yeah. And what's cool about that is because we have all these flashlights and they're going crazy on the stage. And so it's too bad. We can't have a big audience because obviously that would be a really cool effect to see, but people will be able to see on Facebook page. Anyway, Sean, you're actually playing an entirely different instrument in one part of Godzilla Eats Las Vegas. Did you bring that to show us today?
Sean Jatich: Yes, I did.
Robyn Bell: What is it called?
Sean Jatich: It's called an atomatone. It's an electric Japanese instrument, and I bought it off of Amazon
Robyn Bell: Three cheers for Amazon. So, and I'll just explain here. This score for Godzilla Eats the Las Vegas calls intersection for an instrument called a theremin. And if you don't know what a theorem is. If you can hear the opening part of the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations in your head, you might be able to imagine that theremin sound , it's like kinda like scary movie sound, but the Beach Boys used it. Anyway, I was talking to the band. I was like, God, we need a theremin. And you came up to me after rehearsal, and you said, I have this little instrument we could try sort of sounds like that. And you played it for me. So play for us here. What the theremin sounds like on the atomotone. If only we had video, you could see this little doodad.
Sean Jatich: Yeah. He squeezed his face to make his mouth open. So the pitch isn't closed, and then you press anywhere on it.
Robyn Bell: And you don't have to blow into this thing. Right. You just open it. He says mouth because literally they've got it. Like two, it looks like a face. Yeah. And then you just move your finger on that little electronic thing there. And it changes the pitch. That sounds just like a theremin. That has been the coolest thing. And so we have to set up kind of a microphone on stage for that, because it's not heard over the band. And then the guy running the microphone has to know just so people will see how. How this happens, where the back end, the guy running the microphone has to know where in the music that happens. So we can turn the microphone up. It's going to be quite the challenge, but we're excited about that. What are some other things in this concert, all of your having to do that is pretty far out there,
Sean Jatich: In one of our pieces, or this happens in a couple of our pieces actually happens in Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, and also in Tam, O'Shanter the hardest part for me. And my section, I would say is playing runs in fours in 16th note fours. So when Godzilla comes back alive, we have to, mimic him rising up with the sound of notes. So it's. You know, quietly, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And it's
Robyn Bell: super fast.
Sean Jatich: Oh yeah. Super fast. Accidentals everywhere, especially in Tam O'Shanter and it's very difficult to play.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Yeah. And difficult to rehearse because it's not just you guys, the flutes do it with you, the clarinets do it with you, some of the mallet instruments do it. And so lining all that up, particularly six feet apart, like we're rehearsing you can't really be. I don't know if you had this experience before social distancing, but when you were next to each other, you know, kind of happen better than when you're far apart. It was very independent now.
Sean Jatich: Oh yeah.
Robyn Bell: So that's a technical part. That's really hard for you. Do you do any kind of wacky stuff besides play your little fake theremin
Sean Jatich: In Voodoo make jungle sounds, which to us just sounds like making monkey sounds.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. , you have a solo flashlight part don't you?
Sean Jatich: Actually, no, Cody has a solo flashlight part where he goes into the crowd, but I do have flashlight parts and Voodoo where I have to play on beat three, a couple of times by play. I mean, click it on and click it off.
Robyn Bell: , that's right because with Voodoo, the flashlights happen in rhythm with what's going on in the percussion section. And so I told them they can't use your cell phones for the flashlight. You have to have a real flashlight cause you have to click on and off real fast. And it has to be exactly in tempo. And then if you're in the audience, the lights come on percussion sounds happening, sound effects things, but it's all over the stage and it's so cool. It's so cool. I can't wait to practice that again, like full lights out. Everybody has to have their music memorized.
Sean Jatich: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Yadira, what about you? What are some other kinds of wacky stuff you're doing or maybe the most difficult thing in the program?
Yadira Gonzalez: I would say as a section, the trumpets in symphony, the part where we trade off the do-do do-do, it's all continuous without stop and we need each person to play and there was a time where we didn't have one. Remember. And we couldn't practice it very well without them,
Robyn Bell: Right? So it's this continuous rhythm, but it's divided three notes at a time between the four players.
Yadira Gonzalez: Correct.
Robyn Bell: Which might, if you're not a musician that might sound kind of weird, but if you just want well, you could put that in one instrument, but this particular composer, Daniel Bukvich puts it in. Four different instruments. So it's and another person goes and another person goes . So when you put it together, it's one continuous rhythm, but, well, yeah, if someone's absent that day from rehearsal, it's like, pull your hair out and poke your eyeballs out with scissors is just hard
Yadira Gonzalez: Because it's very difficult to time them. Proper.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Yes. Without the person leading you in, or you passing it off to the next person is like running a relay race. Right. And handed that baton off. Yeah, I would say too. That's a really hard part. What about for you Alex? You individually, but just as a percussion section what's been really challenging or what have you really improved upon?
Alex Town: I'm not sure about challenging. Maybe there are some challenges, but. The weirdest thing we're gonna have to do is dress up for one of the songs.
Robyn Bell: Spoiler alert, number three. No, no, that's good. So here's, what's happening again? We're back to our favorite tune. Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, as we said, the marching Elvi come to save the day. And what happens then?
Alex Town: When the marching Elvi come to save the day, the percussion section dresses up as Elvis.
Robyn Bell: Yes. So we have kind of a bit of a costume party going on back there. It's gonna be quite exciting. What I'm happy about. Is that you guys are in the back of the section because if the band saw you, I don't think they would be able to play anymore. I'd be laughing so hard. Nothing else would come out. Yeah. In a minute, after our break, I'm going to interview the composer for Snakes. And I wanna tell you about him in a little bit, but this piece is interesting, as you were say, you have to murmur because the idea is it's a snake pit. Right. But then, Sean, are you one of the people that has to like rattle keys and yeah. So that's a whole added dimension to remember to bring your car keys, your house keys stage with you.
Sean Jatich: They're always in the pocket. So close enough,
Robyn Bell: Even for concerts
Sean Jatich: Usually. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Okay. All right.
Sean Jatich: To break it to you.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, but there is a part where a good deal of musicians have to take keys and rattle them to make a cool sound. You would think they would all be in the percussion section, Alex, but it's not, they leave that to the saxophonist. That's right. That's right. The other thing in Tam O'Shanter that. I find really fun because if you know the story about Tam O'Shanter, , it's a poem by Robert Burns and it's about this man trying to get away from witches in there's several scenes where the witches are trying to like get him in crack at him, you know? And so the band and the percussion section do this back and forth where the band plays a couple of notes, data, data, data, and then there's this snap, like you've just been hit by a stick in that kind of goes back what you were saying, Yadira, when we go back and forth and you've got to rely on this person, do this right before you can do this. And if one person is not in the right tempo playing it. Right. I remember just the other day in rehearsal, it's like completely fell apart. So that's a nice little struggle. I think we've come a long way as a band, the past nine weeks on this music and learning, not just the totality of it, but all of these little new and different and modern techniques on how to play your instruments and what other things your instruments can do. What's been the most favorite part about all this for you, Sean.
Sean Jatich: Just having to play the instrument in different ways. I guess. I love as a player exploring every range of my horn and I've had to play from the highest note in GodzillaEats Las Vegas, a low a, on my saxophone, which if you don't know, the lowest note is a low B flat, which is one note, right above low.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. So you got to get really down on the basement there.
Sean Jatich: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. What about you Yadira?
Yadira Gonzalez: I've enjoyed. Just how . You can see everyone do something completely different with their instrument, but then in, for example, Voodoo, everyone has memorized their piece. And then there's something completely random, like clap their hands as to whistle something random. And I really enjoy that. It creates little labs in the beginning.
Robyn Bell: There are places in several of these pieces where. You get to decide what notes you play, what rhythms you play. And it's, aleatoric music as the term we use over, but yeah, very random. And that's fun. How about you? What's been like the most fun thing about this concert.
Alex Town: The most fun thing is that it's all different music that you would have never heard of before. But it's really interesting and fun to play.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. I'm happy. I'm going to tell you it's one crazy concert to say the least. And I want to thank the three of you for working so hard on your music to make it all come together. And thanks for taking the time to talk with me today about it. When we come back, we're going to hear from one of our composers on this program, Tom Duffy, who wrote the piece Snakes, he's the Director of Bands at Yale. Yes, that's right. Yale. And he has a very interesting family connection right here in Bradenton. And I can't wait to share that with you. We'll be back right after this break.
Robyn Bell: Welcome back to the Suncoast Culture Club. Where today we are talking about the upcoming SCF Symphonic Band concert on Thursday, April 1st at 7:30 PM. If you are an SCF student, faculty, or staff member, you can attend in-person in the Neel Performing Arts Center. Otherwise, you can join us on the SCF Music Facebook page for our live stream of the performance. And here for the second half of today's episode is the composer of the first piece on the program called Snakes. Dr. Thomas Duffy, Tom, welcome to the club.
Tom Duffy: Thank you very much. It's nice to talk to you, Robyn.
Robyn Bell: Well, you may not remember this, but I first met you in the summer of 1999. I was a graduate student in conducting at the University of Tennessee and I attended the University of Minnesota's summer conducting workshop. And you were there on staff. You had a beard back then, or this is what I remember. Yup. And here we are 22 years later, meeting on a podcast to talk about you and your music. And this is what I love about being a musician and these connections. It's fantastic.
Tom Duffy: Small and wonderful world.
Robyn Bell: It is. So Tom, you originally hail from Connecticut, you went to the University of Connecticut for your undergraduate and master's degree. You have a doctorate from Cornell and you have been teaching at Yale since 1982, but besides us playing one of your compositions next week here in Bradenton, you have another, maybe even more important connection to the Suncoast, right?
Tom Duffy: Well, maybe more important for you who drive on its roads. My brother, John is Lieutenant in the East Manatee fire company. He has been there for years up by a State Road, 70 and, Loraine road. If you know where that is or Lakewood Ranch is, his turf. So brother John has been taking care of people in your community for a couple of decades.
Robyn Bell: That's amazing. And do you ever get down here to visit him?
Tom Duffy: I was just down there last summer before COVID he's also a mastertrades journeymen tiler. So he has done tile work in many of the estates and new buildings in Sarasota Bradenton for the last 30 years, 35 years. So there's Duffy vibration all over Bradenton.
Robyn Bell: Well, isn't that something and you and I had talked about this at a conference. We were at a couple of years ago. I think you saw my name badge had Bradenton you're like, Oh, my brother lives there. So when we were going to do your piece, I said, I have to introduce him to our audience tell them about his brother. That's so cool. Now, before we talk about Snakes, I have three topics I want you to share with us first, tell us how this whole music bug thing hits you. Are you a product of the public school band programs? And when did you say I have to do this every day?
Tom Duffy: I am not a product of the public school band program. I went to Catholic school and there was not music in this very strict Catholic school, other than singing, which consisted of nuns saying sing and playing the piano. And you say in French, in my school, it was not good, but, I got into high school. And, as with many people, there was a guy George Massow and Ted decor. So who were just phenomenal musicians. My first year, I wasn't in the band. The second year I went in and said, I want to join the band. They said, what do you play? I said the accordion and the piano and the guitar. And they said, no, , you gotta transfer. out Take the saxophone and go in the back room for an hour. I got to deal with everybody else. And I, you know, I came back with a couple of scales and I stuck with it. So the bug hit me in high school. It was a way to meet people. I wanted to sit next to Linda in the band. So I, you know, that's why I picked the tenor sax. Isn't that sad. I got into, yeah, it didn't work out and they're married to Valerie, not the Linda. , I, , got into college , first majoring in, pharmacy and that, wasn't my passion. And then I went to sociology, but I was taking all music courses. And, then I went into the, saxophone in music ed world, , but they needed a baritone saxophone. So I skipped all that middle stuff. , I went right to the wind ensemble and saw the top group. Cause I needed the bari sax and the music that we were playing, , just the most terrific music. And I became hooked on that, but I left to go to Cornell my master's degree in my doctorate in composition. So I hadn't planned ever to be a band director. But because I was a sax player and it was my, , advocation, I kind of started the jazz program at the University of Connecticut. I say that with a little bit of no humility because I offered the first four credit coursein jazz techniques. I mean, there'd been a jazz ensemble around with some Dana Wilson around the jazz ensemble. I was in Dana Wilson's jazz ensemble at UCONN, but got credited when I was there. , So I went to Cornell where my. Teaching assistantship was the jazz band and the marching band and the concert band. And then when the opening came up at Yale, the incestuous Ivy league call around the Ivy's. You got a grad student that can come down and fill in for a year. And, I was recommended and I came down and it went well. So I've been there 39 years and I'm beginning to perceive an improvement,
Robyn Bell: It's nice. When you see slow and steady progress for certain. Related to that. Cause the second thing I want to talk to you about is besides our, what I consider to be one wonderful music program here at the State College of Florida, we are also known for our amazing nursing program. And some may not think that music and nursing would be too intertwined, but you've done something really special with this combination for the Yale School of Nursing. So share with us your research on music and the brain and how you worked with nursing students at Yale to use music and sounds in their nursing education and training.
Tom Duffy: Yes. I'm a clinical professor in the School of Nursing, as well as professor in the School of Music. And that all came about because the head of the nurse practitioners program knocked on my door 16 years ago when I was the acting Dean of the School of Music. And she said, you know, , we accept people. This is a two year nurse practitioner program, graduate level. You just have to have a college degree. It doesn't have to be in biology. Right? And so we throw them in the mix and we train them and we've discovered that people have a hard time identifying through their stethoscopes body sounds ascultation, it's called their ascultation skills are, complicated. And I thought I would come over and talk to a musician who, of course musicians we spent our whole lives trying to talk about what we hear, how do we do that? So agreed to create an intervention with her and we did, we created a three hour intervention and we take people from whatever classwork they've had, we do a pretest and in three hours we bring them to another level that is really quite amazing. They listen to bowel sounds and lung sounds and heart sounds. They hear artificial examples that I do with a Finale, sound engine, and then they, it gradually speeds up. And then it transfers to the real body sounds. And then they're tested. , and it's a chance for them to take what's only recorded. And I hear the real thing. With stepwise progression. But I think the important thing is, you know, we musicians know how sounds are made. Remember those radio shows where they say, okay, what is this sound? Or they go, and you wouldn't know, but once they said it's a radiator, running over a squirrel, you go, Oh, of course, what else could it be? So we're used to talking about. Sounds these students are not, and I give them markers. This sounds like Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky is a particular heartbeat. Tennessee, Tennessee hearts are supposed to go loved up when they go Tennessee that's bad. Right. So that's how that worked out. And, we had 250% improvements and things, and so much so that the first year that we did it, the 80 people who took it were, compared to the 80 people that did not the control group. And the progress was so great that the 80 people in the control group rioted and demanded the intervention and they got it. We went over to China to present it there. And I say with some amusement that I, who also run the marching band at Yale University, , was in China. And they now teach ascultation in, the hospitals there with a Duffy honed in intervention. So it is substantial 2014, we won the Robert Woods Johnson innovations and nursing award for this. So it's terrific.
Robyn Bell: It's really fascinating stuff and incredible and important research and work. Now here at the State College of Florida, we've been having all of our concerts this entire school year until this semester. We haven't had it any audience members, but even the semester, the concerts are only open to SCF students, faculty, and staff. So still no visitors on campus. We've been performing and broadcasting on the SCF Music, Facebook page as a live stream, the musicians are wearing masks. We have bell covers the flutes have these defenders shields. We sit six feet apart. We even have spittoons for the brass to blow their spit into. But what have the pandemic performances look like for your ensembles at Yale this past school year?
Tom Duffy: Every thing has been virtual. We have not been allowed to meet in person. , We are a liberal arts college, Yale University, so there is no credit for performance. Maybe there's a difference in our worlds that way, but no one can major in an instrument at the undergrad level. They can get a Bachelor of Music, which means theory, history or composition. Our ensembles are mighty. And they are world-class experience like many of the other schools, but, there's no credit given. So when triaging it was done and there, are a hundred, it was all concerts, student run ensembles. It was unmanageable, particularly as we were involved in the aerosolization studies that were going around. So, the School of Music has begun to meet, but none of the winds and brass can play because of the mouth issues. So the strings can meet with so many people in a room the percussions can meet pianos can meet. , so we are still basically, we're all virtual. So we, did a couple of virtual projects, but it is not the same thing. But an amazing thing has happened. So to, keep momentum going and to provide the band experience for the jazz ensemble, the marching band of the concert, that I've begun to do sessions. So I would never take one of my 10 rehearsals. We have five weeks for rehearsal twice a week in a concert. And talk about the history of the band instead of practicing. Right. We got, a play. And now I've talked about the history of the band or the jazz ensemble. So many people in the jazz ensemble, which is a standard big band, had no idea where the big band came from. And that the fact that there was a kind of bicameral world of African-American music and a corresponding white world that were very separate for years. And now, particularly for the time, you know, with black lives matter and any other sensitivities with between race, fascinating time to find out what happened in the 20th century.
Robyn Bell: So you've used this time then too, dig a little deeper on topics that like you say, you can't go in and just rehearse and put on a concert. And so, your groups, even though they're not getting credit, they're still sort of meeting and you're, treating it a more of an academic lecture
Tom Duffy: That's all I can do. And then the virtual project, and we did the, Symphonic Metamorphosis, March, the Hindemith March and Hindemith was at Yale for 11 years. So I showed them Keith Wilson's manuscript of it virtually of course, and Hindemith's the signature and talked about that. And it was a terrific recording I'll send you a link.
Robyn Bell: I would very much like to see that well, the SCF Symphonic Band is performing your composition Snakes for our April Fools Day concert. And I wanted to bring you on the podcast to introduce you and your brotherly connection to Bradenton, but yeah. Also to talk about this really interesting and fun composition we're playing. So can you tell us about how you came up with this concept and how you use all of these musical nuances to represent the sounds of the various snakes?
Tom Duffy: So I was asked to write a series of pieces by, the Elizabeth C. Adams Middle School band in Guilford, Connecticut. And it started off with the band director saying, can you write us an arrangement for our marching band? Cause we're the small band in this town. And the big band comes in with all the resource and they always beat us in the Thanksgiving day parade. So I wrote them an arrangement tailored just to that band and they won. And then the next year I wrote them another one. And then the next year the schools merged and she said, can you write us a concert band piece? I said, I sure will. And my concern was that everybody in the piece has a moment of glory. Remember those old third cornet parts. First cornet has Hello, Dolly. Second cornet has hello. And the third grenade is da, da, da. No, everybody in it has a cool part, right? They get a moment of being cool and there, are four moments of aleatory where the conductor kind of says you're on your own. Right. And they have to do their own thing. So their choices, their musical choices, rhythmic articulation duration, completely shaped the piece. So it's never played the same two times in a row ever. And the other thing was, this was Barbara Tedeschi that I was writing this for and I said to Barbara, I want to write a piece that has a hook in it. So when kids walk around school, they're singing my piece and sure enough, after the first rehearsal, she said, you ought to hear the kids in the hall, boom, bump, bump, whatever. You're cool. And they were they'd snap their fingers. And there's a lot of rhythm to it..
Robyn Bell: Yeah. And you do a really great job of all the different sounds. Literally when we play it, you can hear the Cobra and the Python and the snake pit, the murmurs and stuff. So you took every imaginable snake, and we have a lot of them here in Florida, and you really did a great job, in musically depicting what that snake would look like when it's moving or sound like if it's in a pit, so kudos to not just accomplishing your goals, music for that group, but also really putting a visual image for us of the snakes. We've really loved learning and rehearsing. It is the perfect opener for our concert on April Fool's Day called Godzilla Eats Las Vegas and Other Music you Won't Believe because literally he will close your eyes and won't believe you're not in a snake. But this piece is so well written and the sound effects are so true to life. So Bravo to you, and let's do this Tom, next time you're in Bradenton, visiting your brother and you like get tired of hanging out with him, or he has to go put out a fire or rescue somebody, give me a shout and I'll come save you. And show you the finer cultural life in our area. So there's a
Tom Duffy: So it would be a pleasure to see you in your native habitat.
Robyn Bell: Yes. And we would love to have you here at the college, come speak to our students sometime if that, would all work out. We love that.
Well, the SCF Symphonic Band concert, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas and Other Music You Won't Believe is on Thursday, April 1st at 7:30 PM at the Neel Performing Arts Center. If you are an SCF student, faculty, or staff member, you may attend the concert live and in-person by emailing our box office to reserve your firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone else across the universe can tune in that day to our SCF Music Facebook page to watch the live stream. And we expect about 7,000 of you to be there at attendance online for this. So that is very exciting. I want tothank Sean, Yadira and Alex for joining me earlier on the podcast and sharing their perspectives on this music and Tom here for spending some time with us today. I really appreciate it. My friend and hope to see you very soon and stay well.