Ritual, Opus 29 by Neal Corwell

Instrumentation: duo for tuba and euphonium with CD accompaniment
Copyright: 1997
Duration: 9:30 minutes
Range: FF to f-1 for tuba, FF to d-flat-2 for euphonium
Difficulty: V
Publisher: Nicolai Music
Price: $20*
(price includes accompaniment CD and printed score, plus separate parts for both tuba and euphonium. Both parts include cues for the other player, plus some accompaniment cues)
Recorded by: Neal Corwell, euphonium & Velvet Brown, tuba (Heart of a Wolf CD, Nicolai Music)
Other Info: Premiered by Neal Corwell and Velvet Brown at the Verso il Millennio, an international music festival held in Riva del Garda, Italy in 1997.

a great opportunity to add to your music library!


All societies have their rituals, and this composition is a musical evocation of the meditative, celebratory, and sacrificial (real or symbolic) elements of one such cultural ceremony. It could be any society, real or imagined, because the components found in this particular "ritual" are shared by most cultures, even those greatly separated historically and/or geographically.

The opening section is the meditative component of the imagined ritual. A dance-like spirit is subsequently introduced, and prevails throughout most of the remainder of the composition. An explosive cadenza interrupts the dance near the end of the piece. This interpolation represents a ritualistic sacrifice. With the sacrifice complete, a prayer is offered (in the form of a chant) and the dance then resumes, bringing the work to an exciting and dramatic close.

The accompaniment was created by combining electronically synthesized and sampled sounds with real-time vocal exclamations. The voices heard in the recorded accompaniment were all created by recording the composer's voice. His voice is not altered, for the most part, but occasionally electronic methods were used to slightly alter the timbre of the vocalizations. The chants are improvised, but based on characteristics of the vocal music of the aboriginal people of America and Australia. The overall musical language was influenced by the composer's exposure to the traditional music of various diverse cultures.

The euphonium and tuba share equally challenging roles in this tumultuous duo. After the opening chant-like meditative section, the accompaniment becomes rhythmically forceful and percussive, and a “primal” atmosphere is created through the use of shouting and chanting voices. The duo parts are aggressive. In addition to flutter tonguing and valve tremolos, other technical challenges include triple-tongued arpeggiated patterns and slurred sextuplet patterns.

click here for pdf version of RITUAL web sample
Ritual web sample 1Ritual web sample 2Ritual web sample 3