the demon in checkered pants for brass quintet (1997)

by Bruce Christian Bennett


"It was a gentleman, or rather a Russian gentleman of a certain type, no longer young, qui frisait la cinquantaine, as the French say, with a rather long, thick, dark hair, only just streaked with grey, and a small clipped, pointed beard. He was wearing a sort of brown coat, evidently cut by a good tailor, but rather threadbare, made about three years before and quite out of fashion now, in a style that had not been worn for two years by well-to-do men about town. His linen and his long scarf-like cravat were all such as were worn by smart gentlemen, but on closer inspection his linen was rather dirty and the wide scarf very threadbare. The visitor's check trousers were of an excellent cut, but again were a little too light in colour and a little to tight, such, in fact, as were no longer worn, and the same was true of his white fluffy felt hat, which was certainly not in season. In short, he gave the impression of a well-bred gentleman who was rather hard up."

[F. Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov]

the demon in checkered pants was composed between 31 March and 5 April 1997 as the written component of my Qualifying Exam. It is primarily a monothematic exploration of nine harmonic fields derived from frequency modulation (FM) calculations [Pi = c ± (m * i)] from the notes middle C, F# below middle C, and the C below middle C. From these harmonic fields are derived eight modes, ranging between five and eleven pitches, which accommodate transformations of the principle theme. The FM generated harmonic fields appear at points of structural significance and come to the fore during the slow middle section of the piece. Furthermore, certain chords of historical significance (the Tristan chord, the Mystic chord, the chord from Schönberg's Op. 16, #3, and the Hendrix chord) are associated with these various FM generated harmonic fields and are present throughout the work.


Performance History