The Music

Douglas Bevans is composing the Trojan Horse March and Processional, which will be performed Friday night by a huge corps of brass players, drummers, and percussionists recruited from around the world and throughout Black Rock City. Our aim is to make this the largest live music event in Burning Man’s history. While the piece is still a work in progress, Bevans recently returned from five weeks of concentrated writing on an isolated island in Thailand. He will complete his composition this spring. A general description of the score’s concept follows.

Although there will be an occasional nod to the musical traditions of ancient Greece–-for instance, a thematic melody using the harmonic minor scale-–most of the composition will be dissonant and will weave in and out of tonality. Parts will be played in unison and others will not. While the piece will largely be composed, there will be sections where improvisation and interpretation are encouraged. The drums will provide a morose plodding rhythm akin to a funeral march. The brass, in addition to playing the main musical theme, will sometimes mimic the creaks and groans of the horse being pulled across the playa and other times will contribute to the cacophony of the crowd. As the horse comes closer to the Gates of Troy, the music will shift and build in a triumphant crescendo. While the composition overall will be rhythmic in nature, the intended mood is dark, dissonant, and abstract, even frightening.

Sequential Overview

  • Drums and percussion draw crowds in with dynamic thunderous swells.
  • Echoing the taunts and challenges between the Trojans and the Greeks, “call and response” trumpets from opposite corners of the ensemble imitate the duel of words.
  • The bridge to the main theme is introduced, followed by a suspenseful one-bar pause.
  • Funeral march rhythm is introduced and the Captain of the Guards orders the masses to pull.
  • Full ensemble comes in one beat after the command then introduces the main theme.
  • Drummers continue with the plodding rhythm while the full ensemble occasionally resounds the theme.
  • The horse comes to a sudden standstill and the music stops as the crowds experience the suspense of silence.
  • Captain of the Guard again orders the masses to pull the horse.
  • New war march and a variation on the theme is introduced.
  • Captain of the Guard and the masses continue with a rhythmic vocal call and response.
  • Tempo and intensity increase as the beast nears the Gates of Troy.
  • Full-on musical pandemonium ensues as the horse passes through the gates and a DJ slowly segues into a wavering thumping bass note.
  • Celebratory dance party begins.

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