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Suite: What Shall I Cry? By David John Lang


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Suite: What Shall I Cry?

1. Intrada
2. Prelude
3. Rhapsody 4. Pavane
5. Intermezzo 6. Saltarello 7. March
8. Minuet
9. Air
10. Threnody

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?” (Isaiah 40:6)

From the Composer:

This piece was composed in 2008, at the same time as I was working on Song Without Words for flugelhorn and piano. I thought I was working on one composition, but gradually I became aware that there was a second piece growing out of it, so I cut it off and replanted it.

There are ten short movements, quite diverse in style and tone. Several of them are character pieces, evoking traditional styles but often using unusual techniques, such as ‘out-of-tune’ valve combinations and a clicking slide. Interspersed with these are some free atonal miniatures, more conventional in their rhythm and phrasing, if not their notes. Framing the whole Suite are the most dramatic movements: the mysterious ‘Intrada’ (more silence than notes) and the insistent ‘Prelude’ to begin, answered eventually by the sustained wilting notes of the ‘Air’ and the passionate yet enigmatic ‘Threnody’ at the end.

Performance Notes:

A successful performance of this work requires dramatic intent. The sharp contrasts between (and sometimes within) the movements must be emphasised, and the whole musical journey should feel like a mysterious adventure rather than a hodgepodge presentation of musical ideas. The arrival point is the last movement, ‘Threnody’. The first part of this movement should be played with an unprecedented rawness of emotion, as though the eccentric adventurer of the previous movements has suddenly, and awkwardly, started crying.

The cup mute with the cloth inserted should make the trumpet sound as dull and muffled as possible. These muted passages with fingered should sound sweet and naïve.

None of the movements are to be joined too closely together. Several of the movements already have long silences written in to them, so the breaks between movements ought to be longer and clearer then these.

This work was written for trumpet in B flat, but I have no objection to it being played on a trumpet in C (sounding as written) if that is what the performer would prefer. It is also possible to play a selection of movements rather than the whole piece. My only request is that if ‘Threnody’ is played, it must be as the final movement.

-David John Lang

Additional information



Book Type


15 Minutes



File Size in MB



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