Variations on an Unstated Theme

Composer: Cross, Steven
Instrumentation: Brass Quintet Instruments: 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone and Tuba
Genre: Contemporary

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For Brass Quintet, let's just let the composer describe this piece:

I began the composition of this work as a straightforward theme and variations.  As I got into it a little more, I began to wonder what would be the result if I made the theme tacit, but left enough clues within the body of the composition to see if anyone who performs, studies or hears this work, would have an opportunity to figure out the actual theme on which all of this is based.  That thought intrigued me, but I realized that in order to do this successfully, I had to leave enough clues to make it solvable, but not too many to make it obvious.  Seeing that there are probably over a hundred millionty-billion tunes out there, erring on the side of too many clues did not seem to be a hazard.  So this is my deal to all of you:  

1.)     If you produce a cogent and reasoned hypothesis as to which tune is being utilized, and you are correct, I will tell you so.

2.)     Don’t come up with something like:  “The first three notes are the same as the Star-Spangled Banner, so it must be the Star-spangled Banner”.  That just shows that you are lazy and expect to have the answer to be spoon-fed to you; that behavior, I assure you, will not be rewarded.  (HINT:  “It is not the Star-Spangled Banner).

3.)     Wild or random guesses with no basis on reasoning behind them will not be dignified with a response.

4.)      If no one guesses this before I die, the answer will be lost to the ages and speculation as to what tune it is will gnaw at your souls for all eternity.  I will not give my attorney a copy with the instructions to open it 25 years after my death, or anything like that.  Guess it, fine; don’t guess it; oh well…life goes on.

In order to make your task a tad easier, I will offer to you the following


1.)     There is a reason why the intro and theme are in duple time, but all the variations are in triple time.

2.)     Transition segments, which may seem superfluous to the variations, serve a distinct purpose.

3.)     The dissonances of the 2nd Variation require further study.

4.)     Pay special attention to the motivic development, not only within a variation, but as it is handled throughout the piece.

5.)     Key selections were not random, but chosen for a very specific


6.)     Sometimes fruit will be borne in the least obvious places.

7.)     A mirror may be your best friend.

I don’t know if these clues help or hinder, but regardless I wish you all the best of luck should you desire to begin in this hunt.

Steven Cross, October 2013                                                                                

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Variations on an Unstated Theme
Variations on an Unstated Theme

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    More Information
    SKU CM2345
    Price 22.00
    Delivery PDF download, Shipped (printed)
    Composer Cross, Steven
    Instrument 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone and Tuba
    Instrumentation Brass Quintet
    Genre Contemporary
    Grade 4
    Publisher Cimarron Music Press
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