According to the description of the Vic Firth recording used for this blog, Kevin Puts’ And Legions Will Rise was written and premiered in 2001 in Kobe, Japan. The work was first performed by Makoto Nakura, Yayoi Shinun, and Todd Palmer. This trio features a unique instrumentation of marimba, violin, and clarinet. This composition is very well written with an attention to overall form, scoring, and dynamic contrast. The form consists of alternation between softer sections that slowly build up to more climactic moments then returning back to sparser, thinly scored sections. This tension and release ties in to the theme of the piece which is the human spirit putting up a fight even at one’s lowest moments.
Puts is able to bring out a variety of colors and timbres of each instrument through the use of different compositional techniques. An example of this is how Puts scores the marimba and clarinet in a similar tessitura while the violin is performing an artistic solo on top of the accompaniment. This combination of range and color in the accompaniment creates a bright, seemingly hopeful moment in the piece. As the piece further develops, the marimba enters with denser rhythmic patterns that allow the clarinet and violin to perform a duet above this accompaniment. Puts is able to also use the clarinet and violin as an accompaniment to the marimba in later moments of the piece.
Another compositional technique that Puts uses in this piece is dynamic contrast. The use of dynamics in the softer moments draw the listener into the darker, melancholy moments. The louder dynamics help bring hope and joy to the listener. The combination of these compositional techniques allows Puts to create a dynamic, evolving work that provides the listener with many different musical elements to aurally identify.
Puts has set out to create a work that is accessible to the listener in a variety of ways. Similar to classical music tradition, he uses compositional techniques including melody, harmony, dynamic contrast, and scoring to convey moods to the listener throughout different moments in this piece. Puts was able to compose a work that is very intricate and complex in the way it is written but be easy for an audience to listen to. This piece has a simple form consisting of alternating moments that feature softer and louder moments. The form brings this piece to life even more by allowing it to be somewhat predictable in the sense of what the next arrival point may be, but the compositional aspect of the piece blurs any sense of melodic predictability. Puts seems to like this idea of alternating sections as he uses the musical ideas in some of his other works. I feel that this piece is very unique given the instrumentation, compositional techniques used to evoke different emotions, and the different rhythmic activities that occur simultaneously to seamlessly take the listener on a creative musical journey. Puts masterfully created a composition that is very special for musicians to perform and listeners to enjoy.
“And Legions Will Rise”. Youtube Video, 17:38. Posted by “Vic Firth”, March 11, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXOzv7Rdy8g