Stacy Garrop

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Duration: 12:30
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Thunderwalker" is built on two overlapping edifices. The first encompasses the form of each movement: the first movement is a fugue, the second is a ground bass (passacaglia), and the third is a scherzo-trio. The second abstract structure is derived from what the title suggested to me. I see a thunderwalker as a huge god-like figure who lives in the sky and whose footsteps fall loudly among the clouds. If I were a member of a pre-modern earth society and wanted to get the god-like figure?s attention, I would go through a ritual cleansing ceremony (movement 1), then invoke him over and over again (movement 2) until I had summoned him (movement 3).

These two structures complement each other: a fugue is a ritual of sorts (it follows a set of procedures, much like what one might do in a cleansing ceremony). Passacaglias, by their very nature, repeat themselves endlessly (like one lost in chanting invocations). This particular passacaglia is interrupted after each repetitive cycle by chaotic, grumbling noises (as if the god is awakening in the skies). The character of a scherzo-trio can range from light and quick to sinister of macabre (I imagine if a god were summoned down to earth, he would appear good to some, sinister to others, and he would move swiftly along the earth?s surface).

The entire work was spun from the opening fugue motive. the first movement focuses on developing the fugue materials, particularly a minor 3rd - tritone interval pattern. The second movement takes a nine-note pitch pattern that was introduced in the first movement (the pattern consists of a repeating interval pattern of a minor 2nd, followed by a minor 2nd, then by a Major 2nd) and turns it into a nine-chord pattern (each statement of this pattern equals one complete cycle of the passacaglia). Finally, the third movement mutates the nine-note pitch pattern into an eight-note pitch pattern consisting of alternating minor 2nds and Major 2nds, which is known as an octatonic scale.

Scores & Parts

Thunderwalker - Full Score - Study
Thunderwalker - Full Score - Large

Additional Information

Composition Date 1999
Orchestration 2(Picc.) 2 2 2 - 2 1 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere May 3rd, 2000. Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Orchestra Hall, Chicago.


I. Ritual
II. Invoking the Gods
III. Summoned

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