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Frank Ticheli: "Blue Shades"

Today's blog will feature another piece by Frank Ticheli - Blue Shades. Program notes are below as well as a recording.

Frank Ticheli, Blue Shades

University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon, conductor

These notes are from

This composition reflects Frank Ticheli’s love for the traditional jazz music that he heard so often while growing up near new Orleans. Blue Shades was his opportunity to express his own musical style in this medium. He provides the following description of the work:

As its title suggests, the work alludes to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent — however, it is in not literally a Blues piece. There is not a single 12-bar blues progression to be found, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth-note is not swung.

The work, however, is heavily influenced by the Blues: “Blue notes” (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many “shades of blue” are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue.

At times, Blue Shades burlesques some of the clichés from the Big Band era, not as a mockery of those conventions, but as a tribute. A slow and quiet middle section recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt. An extended clarinet solo played near the end recalls Benny Goodman’s hot playing style, and ushers in a series of “wailing” brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era.

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