Daydream: Program Note

Timothy Mahr – Born March 20, 1956 in Reedsburg, Wisconsin

An eerily quiet D-flat marks the beginning of Daydream, soon joined by wire brushes on a suspended cymbal, a soft bass drum roll, and the scrape of a penny against a cymbal. When the clarinets and low brass enter, the melodic idea remains stagnant, until an outward chordal resolution establishes the tonic key as E major. It is not until the addition of the highly dissonant tritone – what 18th century composers identify as the “devil’s interval” – that the audience is reminded of the work’s title.

Daydream is one of Timothy Mahr’s most atonal works for the wind band medium. Where the majority of composers utilize compositional tools to create commonalities throughout their works, Mahr’s usage purposefully causes disjunction. Phrases are divided irregularly, brass fanfare motives appear and disappear at a rapid rate, trombone portamenti last multiple beats, aleatoric ideas are included ad nauseam – all the while leaving listeners wondering the basic question, “to what am I even supposed to listen?”

This internal questioning, as one might expect, is the goal of the composer. In the front matter of the score, Mahr writes, “introspective sounds elicit mood changes and shifting images.” Rather than listening for melodies, listen for large swaths of color and texture, and let your mind wander in this hazy dreamlike swirl of colors.

Program Note by Tyler Ehrlich

Let me know if you use the above note! Email me here. (A citation would be great too!)