Music, School of


Date of this Version

January 1991


Initiation Leopard Dance Gait of the Aardvark The Eagle's Gift program notes Shamanic Dances is a musical depiction of the Shamanic Journey. Its four sections (played without a pause) relates how the Shaman ) or priest-healer-magician) undergoes a rigorous initiatory process and is transformed into three animals, the sinuous leopard, the awkward aardvark, and the soaring eagle. Two basic musical ideas pervade this overture-length piece: first, an ever-increasing succession of tempi (each one-fifth faster than its predecessor) generating a progression from the slow opening pulse of 52 beats per minute, to the final 161 beats per minute. After this last speed has been attained a short coda reduces the the tempo back to the first slow one. The second musical element, syncronized with this accelerando, is an overall rise in the orchestral tessitura, from the opening contrabass sounds in the Initiation to the altissimo piccolo swirls in Eagle's Gift. Throughout the work, a large percussion section only playing non-pitched instruments is featured, simulating the ecstatic rhythms that induce the shamanic trance.Shamanic Dances was premiered in 1992 by the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, Robert Emile, conductor.

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