Great Sand Dunes tells the story of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Boasting the largest sand dunes in North America, this diverse landscape is portrayed by the colors and timbres of the flute and marimba. This work is in one movement with sections:
I. Star Dune – Main Dune Mass: The largest dune in the park, the Star Dune is grand and holds ancient secrets of a landscape changed by wind and water. You’ll hear the “jet whistle” effect in the flute representing the wind blowing across the dunes. There’s a section here called “Bounce and Splash – the whole dune moves” as wind and water constantly shift the shape and topography of this monolithic dune. As the dunes “slip” or sand begins to slide and move in large quantities, there is a loud booming noise, or what sounds like the dunes singing, represented by a low rumbling pitch in the marimba, and harmonics in the flute.
II. Sabkha: Salt Flat – Star Dune gives way into this solo movement for the flute. More techniques including the jet whistle, key clicks, and whisper tones represent the ghostly and empty white salt plain where sand becomes cemented together. Unique creatures such as shore birds and amphibians make their homes here.
III. Sand – Truly the sand in the park is its own unique character. Moving, sliding, blowing, and swirling, there is a constant feeling of dancing and metamorphosis, and this movement dances as the grains shift and change.
IV. Stream: Surge Flow – this phenomenon is unique to this park and only happens a few other places in the world. During the spring and early summer, water will flow over a smooth creek bed with a fairly seep gradient. Small sand dams form, and when the water backs up behind it, the dam will break and send out waves. In this movement, the water flows and surges through the rolling in the marimba, with the flute joining in to break through the dam and create these waves unique to the park.
V. The Great Sand Dunes: A Closed System – our themes of the work return, from dancing grains, to the jet whistle representing the wind across the dunes. The work finishes with Fast! Flying through the air and the closed system of the Great Sand Dunes creates an ever-changing cycle of wind, water, and sand.
This work was premiered during the 2018 LunART Festival in Madison, Wisconsin by Iva Ugrčić – flute and Matthew Coley – marimba.