Alien Visitors has a science fiction theme: What would it be
like to be visited by aliens? The movement titles - Arrival, Aliens,
Attack - are descriptive of the action: In Arrival, we hear the starship
as it approaches, growing larger and larger and louder and louder. Aliens
is a character study of our visitors. At the end of the movement they disappear
in an upward-wafting cloud of musical smoke. The final movement, Attack,
describes a vicious, mechanized attack.
Suggestions to the Conductor
Tempo: The first movement should not be too slow; the tempo taken by
Donald S. George in the demonstration recording is a bit faster than that
marked in the score, and it seems to work particularly well. (George starts
the piece at about 53 and accelerates to about 65.) The second movement
can be ineffective if too slow, and George's 65 (instead of the marked
60) also works quite well. The third movement (marked at 168) has little
leeway, and certainly must not be allowed to drag. George's 156 works well
because of the extraordinary force and energy of the interpretation.
In the first movement the xylophone is likely to play the six glissandi
incorrectly (measures 21-24). Each should last for the duration of a full
half note. (There is a tendency to play them for the duration of quarter
The tone cluster in the second movement (measures 21-30) will not be
easy. Be sure that no one instrument sticks out, which is what may tend
to happen. If it does, it would be best to omit that part. However, it
is fine for the cluster entrances to each be individually audible, provided
that the cluster itself has a homogeneous, blended sound. (So, tiny attacks
on the entrances, but then bring down the sound levels to effect a blend.)
If the accelerando is played perfectly, the effect should be one of a sound
cloud that floats or sweeps upwards in pitch, synthetic in its perfection.
It is especially important that the timpani in the third movement be
allowed to play out, and that the woodblocks be fearsome and prominent.
The recording is perfect in both respects. Be sure that the timpanist and
percussionists throughout use the specified sticks and mallets.
Brooklyn, New York, 3 Sol, 10 February 1991
Alien Visitors was composed between 1 and 10 February 1990 and
was commissioned by the Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts Concert Band,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Laura Sindberg, conductor