Little Brother is a programmatic work with all original melodic material based on the speech rhythm of the children’s chant: I had a little brother. The program reflects memories of my childhood playing “tag” and “hide and seek” with my two younger brothers. More specifically it depicts a chase where the big brother can’t quite catch the little brother. The big brother gradually becomes more annoyed and determined, set off by the little brother’s playful taunting. The climax reveals who eventually wins in the end.
Little Brother is in rondo form. The A-section represents the little brother. The B and C sections represent the big brother. Besides the introduction and coda, a transitional fugal section is also thrown in. Many concepts taught in the general music classroom are purposely used in the piece. This includes speech rhythms, AABA melodic phrase form, rondo form, SO-MI-LA melodic motives, modulation to the dominant, modes (mixolydian, dorian, phrygian, aeolian, and a touch of lydian), aleatoric sections, and so on. In fact, the melody in the first A section can be performed on mallet instruments by upper-grade elementary students. An admirer of the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education, I feel there needs to be a better connection between innovative general music methods and the concert hall. I hope this work serves as a vehicle to help make this connection.
The Nashua Chamber Orchestra, Dr. Mark Latham conductor, Merrimack, New Hampshire.