The title I chose to pursue – ‘Gusto’ – was chosen as I intended for this piece to be played with happiness and joviality. The music depicts a group of hunters, out in the woods to shoot and attack their prey – the birds. Their pride and positivity lies in the way they see their superiority over their prey and are fully aware of their abilities to conquer them. While the hunters feel power as they stomp in with their troops, the birds on the other hand, struggling for survival, are desperate to seek their freedom, to see the light of day, and to survive this treacherous situation.

As such, each time the 8 quaver beat motif from the opening bar recurred, I wanted to liken it to the action of hunters stomping in with their troops to hunt down their prey. The use of key clicks on the oboe (notes with heads marked x) symbolises the pressing of the trigger as the hunters attempt to shoot the birds. The semiquaver-quaver motif was meant to imitate the sound of a bird chirping or crying out in attempt to flee the hunters. The slower and more lyrical middle B section depicts a clear sky with no birds in sight as they had all gone into hiding. The use of polyrhythm – duple against triple meter – gives rise to rhythmic complexity and metrical ambiguity which helps to bring out the extra-musical element of confusion and uncertainty as the hunters seek to find the prey they cannot locate. As the first melodic theme recurs in bar 25, the hunters catch sight of the group of birds which they then chase after again. At the very end, the hunters had conquered all the birds, with the final bird chirp being the last sound made by the last dying bird. The use of a faster tempo at the coda was to bring out the frenzy in the final chase as the birds put in their best effort and utmost energy in attempts to flee the hunters’ clutches but to no avail. 

In this composition, my main objectives were to consolidate and apply some compositional techniques I have learned in class, such as extended instrumental techniques and polyrhythm, as well as to gain a better understanding of writing for wind instruments which are new to me. Ultimately, after drawing inspiration from various sources, such as the compositional styles of 20th century composers like Igor Stravinsky, or the image of a rural countryside, I hope I was able to portray my intended programme and storyline to you – my audience! 

Gusto MIDI Recording

Anne Thong (19-U2)