Impulse, for woodwind quintet, was commissioned by the Indiana State University Faculty Wind Quintet with support from the Indiana State University Arts Endowment. It was composed between July 23 and August 30, 2000.
im·pulse n … 1 a : the act of driving onward with sudden force … 3 a : a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usu. unpremeditated action (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977 edition)
My use of the word “Impulse” as the title for this woodwind quintet reflects both meanings cited above. On the one hand, I wanted to write a piece driven by rhythm, partly in an attempt to avoid the standard “woodwind quintet sound,” what Lukas Foss has described as “the obligatory pastorale.” The piece begins with an irregular pulsation on a cluster chord, gradually expanding in range, volume, and complexity. Lyricism is also present, and the middle section is about as pastoral in character as they come. But the predominant characteristic is jagged, asymmetrical rhythm, the tension heightened at times with harsh dissonance.
I received the commission for Impulse in mid-July 2000, with the unusual proviso that it be completed as quickly as possible so it could be included on planned concerts and an upcoming recording session for a new CD release. Given just over a month to complete a 10-minute work, I decided that I would have to alter my usual working procedure. I wrote in a way I tend to advise my students against, simply beginning at the beginning and writing without premeditation or planning, making the piece up as I went along. Writing impulsively, in other words.
Impluse was recorded by the Indiana State University Faculty Wind Quintet on the CD Collage for Winds.