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My Hands Are a City

from Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City

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Note excerpted from Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City.

The final movement, My Hands Are a City, titled after a 1955 Gregory Corso poem, overflows with mid-Century American vernacular. Altered progressions from bebop tunes, and stretched out, frozen, and suspended solos from Lester Young and Charlie Parker recordings all fill out the work. In its larger scope and breadth, the movement is a summing up of the symphony’s themes, both poetic and musical.

Genres:   Winds

Subgenres:   Large Ensemble


3Fl(3.db Picc), 2Ob(2.db EHn), EbCl, 3Cl, BCl, CbCl, 2Bsn, SSax, ASax, TSax, BSax, 4Tpt, 4Hn, 2Trb, BTrb, Euph, Tba, Cb, El.Gtr, Pno/Cel, Timp, 6Perc (Glock / Crot / Vibr / Mar / TubBells/ RideCym / SusCym / ChinCym / CrCym / SplashCym / Piat / Tri / T-Tam / 3MixBowls / SD / 2BD)

Commissioned by

California State University-Stanislaus – Stuart Sims
Eastern Illinois University – Milton Allen
Florida International University – Greg Martin
Middle Tennessee State University – Reed Thomas
Ridgewood Concert Band – Christian Wilhjelm
Rutgers University – William Berz
St. Charles East High School – Jim Kull
Texas A&M University-Commerce – Jeffrey D. Gershman
Texas State University – Rodney C. Schueller
Texas Tech University – Sarah McKoin
The Florida State University – Richard Clary
The Univeristy of Alabama – Kenneth Ozzello
The Univeristy of North Carolina-Greensboro – Kevin Geraldi
The University of Georgia – John Lynch
University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Carolyn Barber
University of Wisconsin-Madison – Scott Teeple
Williams College – Steven Bodner

Consortium organized by: Jeffrey D. Gershman, Texas A&M University-Commerce

View Errata Info

(for parts to the 2/07 uncorrected editon)

  • There’s a missing “3/2” signature at m.68. This makes the “3/2” one before G superfluous. All the music from 68-73 is in 3/2, and is notated as such. It is only missing the time signature.
  • Bowls: experimentation in stores is necessary to find ones that ring nicely. Depending on whether or not you suspend them from a bar, you might need more than 3 (for the 2 bowls used to roll ball-bearings). For those four measures at Reh. Q, experimentation will be necessary to determine the best sound for the bowls you have. Sometimes that will be one ball bearing in each bowl, sometimes that will be 2 beebees in each bowl, etc. It really depends on the bowls – which are all really different. The sound produced should be a smooth high-pitched white noise, with as little “clanking” as possible.
  • More bowls mallet clarification (again, experimentation is needed – as stainless steel bowls sound drastically different:
    • m.111, and again at Reh. R: soft yarn mallets instead of knocking with knuckles (if needed for volume).
    • reh. U, triangle beater, or a wooden drumstick struck on the edge.
    • m.230, a plastic mallet sounds good for “bowls struck with hard mallets”
  • If possible and you have a working vibr motor:Motor on (“Motor on – medium slow”) m.62-70, off after m.70. On again at m.170. Off at rehearsal U, m.198. On again at m.237, 2 before Y, and then off at Y.
  • 4 after Reh. D, Horns muted, not stopped
  • m.47, Bass Clarinet, decresc to match bari and bsn.
  • 4 after Reh. F (and when it’s repeated later–before Y), the 13-tuplet in the winds is changed to 2 sets of 4 16ths and a quintuplet.
  • m.81 Flute 1, start on the second half of that beat – so it’s an eighth rest followed by D5/E5 16ths
  • m.81 Oboe, p decresc.
  • m.88 guitar VIBRATO line
  • m. 107, Timp. : A single attack (just poorly notated as is).
  • Reh. K: Score copying error – on the downbeat of K the trumpets have a forte dotted-whole note chord. Tpts 1-2 are (written) C6, Tpt 3 is (written) F5, Tpt 4 is (written) E5. The parts are correct, but missing the “forte”.
  • Reh. L, The aleatory should be like a chiming effect, at ABOUT the tempo of the physical distance of the notes as they are notated in the boxes. Something like whole notes, but everyone should be different and not together – the vibes should be a little faster than that kind of speed.
  • 2 before M, horns open, not stopped
  • Reh. M marimba mf (not p)
  • Reh. N and Y, the brass are beamed weird for no reason whatsoever–a copying error. They should just be beamed normally, in groups of 4.
  • Reh. O: Trumpet 1 solo “open”
  • Reh. P, guitar, notated “Tone II” (that is, their second preset sound), and the description of the tone should include “plus reverb”. There should always be SOME reverb – that just means much more reverb.
  • Reh. P Susp. cymbal no roll on downbeat – roll to downbeat and l. v.
  • Reh. Q, timpani: first 6 measures, timpani rolls a suspended cymbal while ad lib pedaling (pp), on a high drum.
  • 4 after Q, guitar “Tone III”
  • m.178 guitar “Tone IV”
  • Reh. R, m. 180 = pedal F in the 4th trumpet. In the case that your trumpet doesn’t want to deal with this have Tpt 4 simply hold their A3 through the F3 (for an extra triplet 8th) at each instance.
  • Reh. R, guitar “Tone I”
  • Reh. S: Bass Trombone “open”
  • Reh. S, guitar “Tone IV”
  • m.189, move Clarinet 1 over 1. 5 beats to double the E-flat Clarinet at the octave.
  • m.202 guitar VIBRATO line
  • Reh. Z, Guitar “Tone II” (“plus reverb”)
  • m.255-7, piccolo 8vb
  • Reh. BB, Horns open, not stopped.
  • m.273 guitar “Tone III”
  • m.274 move the English Horn over 1. 5 beats to double the E-flat clarinet at the octave.
  • Reh. DD marked “Broadly”
  • m.285 timp down 8vb
  • m. 286 marked “A tempo, poco accel. “
  • m.288 (2nd to last measure), Woodwinds cresc. on the last beat of their holding/trilling

Recorded on

  1. Millennium Canons: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Recent Performances

  • February 21, 2020 - Rowan University Wind Ensemble at Temple University. Conducted by Joseph Higgins.
  • November 23, 2019 - Rowan University Wind Ensemble at Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University. Conducted by Joseph Higgins.
  • April 30, 2010 - University of Wisconsin-Madison Wind Ensemble at Mills Concert Hall, Madison, WI. Conducted by Scott Teeple .