The Man in Black
DIFFICULTY: ADVANCED / RUNTIME: 3’17
This piece was named in honor of HBO’s Westworld, with the title referring to Ed Harris’ character William, also known as “The Man in Black.” This character is very complex and unnerving, and I felt that this piece was reflective of his qualities. I’ve always been drawn towards exploring darkness and angst through music, and ultimately this composition serves as my take on the aura of “The Man in Black.”
I began to work on this solo in March of 2021 (just a few months before leaving for spring training with the Bluecoats) and I finished it less than six hours before the recording session for I&E. I wrote this piece with every intention of making it an uncomfortable slow-burn, and I’m extremely happy with where it ended up. As is consistent with all my snare pieces, there are a few motifs woven throughout that act as anchor points to keep the listener engaged. The three against two polyrhythm is introduced almost immediately and stays constant throughout the piece, and the rapid succession pudiduh figures (and RLL/LRR sticking in general) act as the main motif, appearing in many different rhythmic and stylistic contexts.
The opening segment of the solo is meant to have as much dynamic contrast as possible, and unlike my other solos begins at fortissimo and doesn’t establish much of anything contextually. Its sole purpose is to grab the listener’s attention before immediately disappearing to pianissimo, setting up an uneven and rocky surface for the rest of the piece to expand upon. The opening passage is one of the denser sections of the solo, aiming to be captivating and technically impressive from the start.
As we move into the second phrase, it becomes very clear how abnormal this piece is. There is very little musical phrasing in this section, and it constantly builds and maintains tension with no foreseeable payoff. This was absolutely intentional. The solo then moves to a section filled with disconnected motifs/tributes, some of which are callbacks to previous pieces of mine, and still has yet to deliver a true climax. The next chunk is my take on your typical groove section, and to be honest I just aimed to have fun with this part. It was much harder to use the motifs here because of the chosen tempo, but in doing so I added some variety and flair to an otherwise uneasy solo.
Some more grit and a transitional motif brings us into the closing section, written the night before I recorded and submitted the solo. This was meant to be the release of all the tension built prior in the piece. It’s full of notes and is extremely fast paced and energetic, and I believe it ties the solo together very well.
This piece was named in honor of HBO’s Westworld, with the title referring to Ed Harris’ character William, also known as “The Man in Black.” This character is very complex and unnerving, and I felt that this piece was reflective of his qualities. I’ve always been drawn towards exploring darkness and angst through music, and ultimately this composition serves as my take on the aura of “The Man in Black.” I sincerely hope you enjoy.
- Marching Snare Drum
- Sheet Music (in .PDF format)
Full Solo Audio (in .AIF/.MP3 format)
- Unpitched Percussion: Zach Brumfield