Here Be Dragons

I collect titles.

It’s a habit I started years ago. Step one: find catchy or interesting phrase. Step two: write down. Step three: use when the moment strikes. Here Be Dragons is a product of one such moment; I read somewhere online that seafarers of old used the phrase to signify an unknown or dangerous stretch of uncharted water, and the thought stuck with me. Even though there is little historical reference for this, the idea lives on in my imagination. What beasts would await these sailors? Are they a band of pirates outrunning the law or explorers on a new adventure? How do they react to the presence of something (theoretically) large and menacing? Is there a peaceful resolution?

These questions inspired the music of Here Be Dragons. I rely on extended technique in the woodwinds and brass to create airy sounds reminiscent of the crash of a wave. The timpanist plays no actual notes on the drumhead; instead, they use an inverted cymbal to add noise almost like a whale’s call to the texture. The rest of the percussion section chimes in to add depth and clarity to specific moments. On this journey, everyone has a purpose, and the adventure starts the moment the baton rises.

[Here Be Dragons was commissioned by Denton Grant for the Allendale High School Wind Ensemble.]

Run time: approx. 4’40”
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Listen to Here Be Dragons, as recorded by the Allendale High School Wind Ensemble under the baton of Denton Grant, below: