Donald O. Johnston - Three Diverse Pieces for Winds and Percussion
Three Diverse Pieces for Winds and Percussion - Toccata, Chant, and March
The Toccata is a mixture of development and variation musical construction forms. Although the opening theme is drawn from a row of tones, the melody is not clearly established until a number of measures into the composition when it is stated by the trombones (m.53) and when the woodwinds present it (m.123) against the clashing blocks of sound in the brass instruments. In a sense, the opening is a variation in search of a theme.
Following the opening chorale melody, the composition becomes extremely intense. The repeated drum figure is relentless and never allows relaxation from the growing feeling of tension.
Because of the intense nature of the Toccata, the Chant functions as the contrasting musical relaxation to the first movement. In spite of the composition's inauspicious beginning, the work gradually grows through continuous development achieving a climatic ending. Gregorian chant-like in nature, the melody is based upon an old church mode, the Dorian scale.
In complete contrast to the proceeding movements, the March utilizes more "contemporary" melodic lines and harmony than generally expected in usual march music.