Allusions, Illusions & Delusions
Gottschalk, Arthur W.
Doctor of Musical Arts
Allusions, Illusions and Delusions (2013) is an eight minute work for full orchestra that blends elements of lyricism with fast kinetic music, orchestral tutti with smaller groupings and solos, and familiar harmonic language with more exotic combinations. The piece begins with a bang, employing a figure that blurs the distinction between major and minor triads. After the ensuing short introduction, the flugelhorn’s lyrical theme becomes the main focus; indeed, elements of this solo line help to shape the entire piece. Following an expansive orchestral tutti built on this theme, the line and the ensemble are broken down and small groups of instruments begin a climb to the fast section of the piece. The longest portion of the score, this fast section takes the listener on a roller coaster ride with sharp turns and many ups and downs. The ride continues building more and more intensity and energy until the climax, marked in the score “huge and bombastic.” As this cacophonous “wall of sound” dies down, four solo strings and a clarinet emerge, recalling moments of the flugelhorn solo. A solo bucket muted trumpet presents a final paraphrase of the theme, bringing the piece to a calm and soothing resolution. Allusions, Illusions and Delusions takes its title from elements of the piece itself and from a number of external influences. The lyrical flugelhorn solo beginning at measure 27, the rapidly changing harmonies of the fast section, polychordal segments (such as the Eb major/d minor simultaneous sonority found in measures 87 through 89), and the climax at J, allude to the sounds of triadic harmonies from common practice tonal music. Aspects of these harmonies also create a sense of illusion: The main melodic and harmonic sounds used in the piece are intervals of seconds and thirds, and their inversions. By using minor seconds simultaneously as melodic and harmonic intervals, the quality of a triad or chord is often blurred, fooling the listener into thinking that they are hearing a triad, when five or more notes might actually be present. Delusion refers to the way a listener might react to the music. Often listeners invent a story to go along with a piece of music as a way for them to organize and understand the musical journey that they are experiencing. When there is no extra-musical idea tied to the piece at all, as in this instance, listeners might well be deluding themselves.