Rolling Boil for Symphony Orchestra (PDF) - Mike Forbes
Written for the WSMA High School Honor's Orchestra, this programatic work is a musical fantasy depict a pot of water growing to a rolling boil. With metronome marks correlating with rising temperature, the work is a sustained crescendo of tempo, volume, and intensity.
Video of the Premiere here:
Program Note by the Composer:
One of the things I enjoy most about music, is it’s abstract way of communicating emotions, thoughts, and feelings in ways that words fall short. Something I like to do as a composer is take an everyday event, thing, or experience and develop it musically. Take for example, the simple process of boiling a pot of water. This is something we all do as we prepare dinner or coffee or what have you, yet I wanted to take this rather insignificant daily event and blow it up in to a musical fantasy.
They say, “A watched pot never boils,” well, I’m here to tell you that it does, because as “research” for this piece, I did indeed watch the entire process unfold before my eyes and ears as my imagination went wild. In this piece you will be able to hear various motives representing different forces of good and evil mix it up as blistering heat begins to corrupt otherwise placid cold water.
Compositionally, the piece is somewhat peculiar. Usually music ebbs and flows and contains a good deal of contrasts, especially in terms of tempo. But, this work in a pseudo variation form, is what I call a “sustained crescendo.” Everything always moving forward: faster, louder, busier, fuller.
From the very beginning of the work, you hear the click of the stove and then a real sense of nothingness as the placid cold water just sits there…ever so slowly warming up. The water that comes out of my kitchen tap, is about 54 degrees Fahrenheit; so, this work begins with a quarter note beat equally 54 beats per minute. Slowly over the course of 7-8 minutes the water reaches a “rolling boil” of 212 degrees, as does my quarter note beat. Along the way of course there is some simmering and percolating, and those stages of warming water help to add contrast to the sustained crescendo before ultimately reaching a “ROLLING BOIL.”