The main characteristics of this work were predetermined by the terms and implications of the commission:” a piece of “restful” music playable by high school bands. This immediately translated itself in my mind into a basically slow music, making limited technical and expressive demands on the players. It did not, however, rule out twelve-tone technique. (I am aware of the fact that many educators and musicians regard “dissonance” or twelve-tone music, even if set in a slow tempo, as basically unrestful, a position which I hardly consider tenable or demonstrable).
In looking at the band literature, it is evident that most of it fails to make full use of the remarkable sonority potential of the band medium. For this reason, and because young players can rarely be counted upon to play with a great deal of individual expressibility, I decided that I would devote much of the work to the exploration of the unique individual and mass sonorities available in the band. Thus the multiple divisi of the clarinets, the considerable use of the low-register members of the clarinet family, the juxtaposition of various brass sonorities throughout the piece, and in general, the exploitation of the lyric quality of wind instruments.