A view overlooking Electric Pass, near Aspen, Colorado. Majestic clouds float in a blue sky, over mountains covered with grass and snow.

Speck

for unaccompanied tuba

I was elated when Samantha Lake approached me with a commission—my very first. We got to talking and she told me about her experiences at Electric Pass near Aspen, Colorado. The world, seen from the peaks of this trail, feels so small, and yet the infinity of sky is astronomical above you. In that moment, you are both on top of the world and but one tiny cog in the machination of the universe.

 

"Speck" represents this through the song (both sung and played) I imagine singing to the majesty of the sky, and the rhythmic dance of the microscopic creatures living their quotidian life below.

Extended techniques in this piece include singing into the tuba both alone and while playing (range: D4–D5, in falsetto if necessary); a variation on a "lip beat" into the tuba; and tapping percussively on the bell.

"Speck" was premiered on May 30, 2021, by its commissioner, Samantha Lake, at the Virtual Tuba Euphonium Conference.