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Elemental Variations



Wind Band


c. 12:00


Intermediate Difficulty

About the Piece


Elemental Variations explores the classical elements in a unique musical setting. The Elemental Theme, first heard in the clarinet, is developed through various musical techniques as part of a theme and variations. Each variation represents, through both the theme’s changes and the ensemble color, a different classical element. Each element variation is assigned a name: Flow of Water, Dance of Earth, Serenity of Air, and March of Fire.

Moving between each of these variations – acting as a refrain in a rondo – is the mysterious Ether. The Ether was sometimes referred to as a fifth element in classical texts and was invisible to every human sense. It was rationalized, that the Ether must be the invisible space that sound travels through. After it is introduced at the start of the piece, the Ether returns between every variation. It explores the interval of a tri-tone, with each reappearance a different modulation of chords related to each other by a tri-tone interval. The final Ether appearance has the Elemental Theme played within it. Lastly, Elemental Variations ends with a fast and brilliant coda.


Excellent for developing band programs looking for larger scale works.


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