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"Shuffle and Deal"

Title Shuffle and Deal
ComposerF.G.J. Absil
Instrum.Brass Sextet
DateNovember 2006
DurationTotal: 21'40 (4 movements: 5'25 + 5'40 + 3'15 + 7'20)
StyleTarantella, March, Jazz Waltz, Vivace
KeyEb - Ab - Bb - Ab (various modes)
MeterVarious (see below)
TempoVarious (fast - slow - moderate - fast)


A musical score excerpt
  • Trumpet in Bb 1, Trumpet in Bb 2, Horn in F, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba.


This composition for brass sextet consists of four movements:

Movement 1

Mvt. 1: "Joker with Diamonds", Tarantella, Andante (68 BPM) - Allegro (126 - 70 BPM) - Andante (106 BPM) - Moderato (62 BPM) - Allegro (126 BPM), meter: 12/8 (irregular), key: Eb modal, duration: 5'25, 135 mm.
After the opening chords the joker (trombone with hat or plunger) enters the stage, kick-starting the tarantella at [A] (m. 13). The irregular rhythm is exhausting the dancers, and by [C] (m. 51) it is time for a break (shuffle rhythm in lower brass). At [D] (m. 72) we return to the dancefloor, picking up momentum. The tarantella reappears in [F] (m. 98), now with hat (plunger) in trumpets and trombone, and return of the irregular meter in [G] (m. 110). The coda, [H] (m. 122) leads the dancers into a whirling climax.

Movement 2

Mvt. 2: "Queen of No Hearts", Marcia Maestoso, Moderato (80 - 74 - 86 BPM), meter: 4/4, key: Ab, duration: 5'40, 104 mm.
After a tutti introduction, the queen (trumpet lead) bounces off into a royal parade [A] (m. 9), accompanied by a number of loyal court servants (lower brass). However, her popularity is evident from the suppressed chuckles in [D] (m. 31). The royal household tries to restore order with the horn leading the march in [E] (m. 42). This seems to have some effect in [F] (m. 57), but by letter [H] (m. 79) there is outbreak of public laughter. This forces her majesty into a hurried retreat at [J] (m. 92), with a couple of last desperate appeals to dignity, before the palace gates shut.

Movement 3

Mvt. 3: "Jack of All Spades", Jazz Waltz, Swing (160 BPM). meter: 3/4, key: Bb, duration: 3'15, 173 mm.
A lively jazz waltz with trumpet lead (cup mute) and a fairly regular structure. The modal main theme starts in [A] (m. 9) and has an \textit{aaba} form. After a transition [D] (m. 43), the middle section starts at [E] (m. 51) with unisono accents and full-blown 6-part chords in [F] (m. 63). This leads to a first climax at m. 86, just before the re-appearance of the main theme in Db. A repeat of the 6-part chords leads to an imitative phrase (the inverted main motive) in [L] (m. 115), starting in the tuba and leading to a second climax in m. 131. The coda begins in [M] (m. 135), mixing elements, with a dominant bass pedal and a final statement of the main motive in [O] (m. 163).

Movement 4

Mvt. 4: "Five-Leaf Clover", Andante (72 BPM) - Vivace (260 BPM) - Andante (72 BPM) - Molto Allegro (252 BPM), meter: 5/8 - 7/8 (irregular), key: Ab Lydian (modal), duration: 7'20, 241 mm.
Try this one for your luck. In the slow introduction the euphonium plays a melody derived from a tone set, that turns out the main motive of the Vivace section starting at [A] (m. 18). This motive is repeated against a background of muted trumpets and horn. A transition, starting at [C] (m. 44), leads to a first contrasting Andante section at [E] (m. 66) with unisono theme for trumpet 2 and tuba. This develops into [F] (m. 94), with a tutti jazz flavour. A second transition starts at [G] (m. 108) with the main motive imitated in augmentation and inversion. We hear the main theme in [J] (m. 132), now in a counterpoint setting in the Eb Lydian mode, until all voices participate. Another transition, starting at [L] (m. 165), leads to the second Andante section at [N] (m. 188), which is also the start of the Coda. The main motive, in augmentation, speeds up to a Molto Allegro tempo in m. 219 with a final climax.

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