Chant, for trombone, bassoon, and piano

ChantChant was commissioned by the Philadelphia trombonist Thomas Elliott to perform with his daughter, bassoonist Rachel Elliott, for her senior recital at Carnegie Mellon University. The music sets, after a fashion, 1 Corinthians 12:4–6, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of service, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God who works all in all.”

The music is based on the Greek text, converting each of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet into pitches, framing them within shifting overtone series, themselves determined by the letters. For the wind instruments each of the three sections is one of the verses. The piano, however, repeats the first verse throughout. Each letter of each word is represented, although they don’t always follow in strict order.

But ultimately this is music inspired from the chant tradition: it moves slowly and simply, often in unison or in octaves. Its musical challenges for the performers demand close communication and listening, to present—as in chant—a unified voice. It suggests unity, diversity, and relationship over immediate virtuosity.

Chant, excerpt: 

5 thoughts on “Chant, for trombone, bassoon, and piano

  1. fputnam

    Thanks for the excerpt, Kile. Having known Tom for years (decades), it was good to hear him and Rachel together. Bassoon, trombone, and piano–a most unusual combination, and a challenge for the composer. Thanks again!

  2. fputnam

    Dear Kile,

    Thanks for the link–it was good to hear Tom (whom I’ve known for decades) and Rachel, and to hear how you managed (well) such an unusual combination of voices.

    Thanks again, and best wishes!


    1. Kile Smith Post author

      Thank you, Fred, it was a delight to work with them! I remember puzzling over how to treat the voices, since the range is so similar, but the idea of chant made much of the puzzling evaporate.

  3. Justin Croushore

    Hello Kile, I am very interested in ordering Chant and pote really programming the work as soon as December 2016. Is this available for purchase? Thank you!


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