Featured Content: Frank Ticheli’s Abracadabra

Featured Content: Frank Ticheli’s Abracadabra

In preparation for the end of next month, today we’re featuring Frank Ticheli’s mysterious and mischievous Abracadabra. This medium-easy, grade 3 piece is suitable for middle school through college and community bands.

To view the score and hear the recording simultaneously, first click the play button:


Then follow along in the score by clicking the full-screen icon in the bottom right corner of the score window below. You can change pages using arrows (on your keyboard or onscreen) and close the score by pressing the Esc key. (Alternatively, you can click here to open the score in a new window.)

Frank Ticheli’s Program Notes for Abracadabra

Abracadabra was composed in the summer of 2004, and was orchestrated the following November during a residency at the MacDowell Colony. The piece is dedicated to my son, and is at once playful and serious, innocent and mischievous. A sense of mystery pervades as the dark key of G minor is balanced by sudden shifts to bright and sunny major keys.

Throughout the composition I was thinking about magic, not in an evil or frightening sense, but as a source of fun and fantasy. My wonderfully playful, sometimes mischievous young son was always in the back of mind, as were images of Halloween with its costumes and jack-o’lanterns.

As the piece nears its conclusion, the music rushes toward what seems to be an explosive finish. But the woodwinds interrupt, fanning out to a questioning whole-tone cluster. They are answered by a puff of sound, a final disappearing act.

In strictly musical terms, the piece is as clear an example of musical economy as anything I’ve composed. Almost everything is derived from the opening bars of the main theme. Indeed, virtually every note can be traced to the main melody or its accompaniment. Because of this heightened sense of unity, I had to choose other ways to achieve musical variety. The most important solution was through the sudden and frequent shifts of mood, mode, and tonality.

Help Your Students Prepare Ticheli

SmartMusic can help your students prepare Frank Ticheli’s Abracadabra. It even includes predefined assignments you can send to every student, so they are better prepared to make music in rehearsal.

SmartMusic is now just $40/year for teachers. Best of all, you can try it for free.

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