Instrumentation: Band (grade 3/youth band)

Piccolo, 2 Flutes, Oboe (div.), 3 Bb Clarinets, Bb Bass Clarinet, Bassoon (div.), 2 Eb Alto Saxophones, Bb Tenor Saxophone, Eb Baritone Saxophone, 3 Bb Trumpets, 2 F Horns, 3 Trombones, Euphonium (div.), Tuba (div.), Timpani, 6 Percussion

Educational resources for this piece are available through: SMM_SPOT1C_HDuration: 4:30

Premiere: April 26, 2012 :: 7:30pm :: Cedar Springs High School Symphonic Band :: Cedar Springs High School Auditorium :: Cedar Springs, MI

Purchasing: Murphy Music Press

View Score

Program Note:

I don’t normally like to begin program notes with dictionary definitions—it feels pretty stuffy to me—but it seemed appropriate for this piece, so here goes…

thunk [thuhngk] noun & verb
1. [n.] an abrupt, flat, hollow sound (example: The book landed on the floor with a thunk.); synonym: thud
2. [v.] to produce an abrupt, flat, hollow sound
3. [v.] colloquial past tense and past participle of think.

Melodious Thunk was inspired by the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Monk’s wife, Nellie Smith, nicknamed him “Melodious Thunk” because of his clunky, awkward, and brilliant(!) piano playing, and his, somewhat scatterbrained and disoriented nature. I really liked the idea of playing around with Monk’s name—first, because I personally really enjoy goofing around with “spoonerisms” (silly, ridiculous, mix-and-match letter games, which often happen by accident: for example, slip of the tongue becomes tip of the slung), and, second, because this nickname actually provided great musical inspiration. Melodious—well, that’s fairly obvious—and thunk (which is a great onomatopoeia!) became the starting points for the piece. Big, fat thunks are interspersed with pointy, clunky, bluesy blips, which are then transformed into a long, smooth, laid-back melody accompanied by a funky bass line. I haven’t consciously borrowed any specific tunes or licks from Monk, although I do use a small fragment of Dizzy Gillespie’s tune Salt Peanuts, but I hope you’ll hear some similarities between this piece and Monk’s iconic musical style and quirky attitude.

Melodious Thunk was commissioned by a consortium of bands organized by Ryan Shaw and the Cedar Springs High School Symphonic Band, including:

  • Birmingham Seaholm High School (MI) — Timothy Cibor
  • Bloomfield Hills Andover High School (MI) — Robert Ambrose
  • Bloomfield Hills International Academy (MI) — Robert Ash
  • Cedar Springs High School (MI) — Ryan Shaw
  • Clarkston High School (MI)— Michael Lewis
  • Dakota High School (MI) — Risa Hsu
  • Grand Ledge High School (MI)— Christopher Blackmer
  • Novi High School (MI) — Mark P. Hourigan
  • Waterford Kettering High School (MI) — R. Scott Adkins
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College (WI) — Terry S. Treuden

Errata List (updated 1.30.2015)