Posted By : Jeff Moore
Piece Title : The Night Watch
No. of times Viewed (December 2018) :33
Total No. of times Viewed :2127
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Dificulty Rating :
Level : Junior / Senior
Composer / Arranger : Blaha, Joseph
Composer / Arranger Details:

Joseph Blaha received his doctorate in composition from the University of Oklahoma and is currently an associate professor of music and director of bands at Roanoke College.  He has studied composition with Michael Hennagin, Richard Hervig, and Gunther Schuller.

Blaha composes for a wide variety of instruments and a number of his compositions have been commissioned by universities, churches or other organizations. Several of his works have aired on public radio and his music has been performed across the United States and in Europe and South America.  Among his award-winning pieces notably The Night Watch was the grand prize winner of the 2000 Michael Hennagin Prize in Composition.  His works have been recorded on Albany and Summit labels. 

In addition to composing, teaching and directing, Blaha is an accomplished instrumentalist performing regularly on the trombone, bass trombone, euphonium and piano.  He studied trombone with John Hill, Irvin Wagner, Leon Brown, Edward Kleinhammer and Ronald Barron.  He played euphonium for Karl King for four years and served for five years as a trombonist in The United States Army Band "Pershing`s Own."  He performs as a jazz pianist in various venues throughout the Roanoke Valley.    In 2002, Blaha was inducted into the Iowa Rock `n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame.

Total Number of Percussionists Required :10+ Percussionist(s)
Categories : Tuned Percussion / Percussion Ensemble
Instrument / Discipline : Large Percussion Ensemble
Instrumentation : 4 1/3 Octave Marimba (Low A) (x2) / 4 2/3 Octave Marimba (Low E) (x2) / Anvil / Bass Drum / Bongos (Set of) / Bubble Wrap (x2) / Castanets / Chimes / China Cymbal / Claves / Cow Bell (x3) / Crash Cymbals / Crotales (Set of) / Guiro / Hi-Hats / Maracas / Medium Gong / Orchestra Bells (x2) / Piccolo Snare Drum / Plastic Grocery Sacks (x2) / ratchet / Sandpaper Blocks / Slap Stick / Sleigh Bells / Snare Drum (x4) / Suspended Cymbal (x6) / Tam-Tam / Tambourine / Tom (x4) / Triangle (x2) / Vibra-Slap / Vibraphone (x2) / Windchimes / Wood Block (x2) / Xylophone (x2)
Range of Instruments / Number of Drums : NA
Written for / Commissioned by : Not a Commissioned Work
Permission given for Youtube video by Copyright holder
and Youtube Channel Owner. Recorded / Provided by:
 TCU Percussion Ensemble
Accompanied :N/A
Publisher :OU Percussion Press
Publishers Website
Publisher Details :

In 1977 the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensemble embarked on a project that developed into a national model for the encouragement and development of new music for percussion ensemble.  The OU Percussion Ensemble Commissioning Series regularly engages outstanding composers to write works for this medium.  The Commissioning Series is responsible for the creation of some of today`s staples in the percussion ensemble repertoire.

     In 1983 the University of Oklahoma funded the establishment of the OU Percussion Press, a non-profit extension of the percussion area. Through the Percussion Press, the commissioning series compositions plus other works expressly written for the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensembles have been made available for purchase and performance by the world`s leading percussion ensembles. The Percussion Press` catalog numbers more than 50 works, all published in a non-profit venture as a service to the profession.

Year Composed / Copyright Date :2000 /  2001
Duration :26Minutes
No. of Mallets/Sticks Required :2
Special Needs :The following instruments are shared between two players: Bass Drum, Crash Cymbals,
Sheet Music Available From      Check to see if in stock
Programme Notes / Performance Details :

To Hans ver Meulen and Ieke van der Veen, in commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of our friendship. - Joe and Sara Blaha

Several factors came together to inspire the writing of The Night Watch. Among them, of course, was the competiton that was held biennially in honor of my mentor and friend, Michael Hennagin. But, for whatever reason, I was thinking of not entering the contest. It was upon the urging of my colleague, Al Woijera of the Radford IUniversity Percussion Ensemble, that I seriously began to consider participating.

In the last ten years of his life, Michael Hennagin become enormously interested in the percussion ensemble as a truly twentieth century (and composer friendly) musical vehicle. Certainly, his close relationship with Richard Gipson and the inspiration generated by the excellent musicianship of the University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra brought about the composition of the internationally known Duo Chopinesque and The Phanom Dances. (When I first began teaching at Radford University, I was treated a bit like a celebrity because I had studied with the composer of Duo Chopinesque. A year later the Radford ensemble gave an expert reading of The Phantom Dances.) Because of the relative newness of the percussion ensemble in western culture (neither Beethoven nor Brahms had written anything for a group of this type) and its inherent ability to explore new sonic possiblities and textures, Hennagin actively promoted the writing of music  for the percussion ensemble to his students. His genius in writing for this ensemble, or, for that matter, any other instrument, was his ability to engage the listener to hear music in the smallest sound. And when his music was loud, it was an explosion (and every bit as dramatic). His sudden death in 1993 robbed us observing anyfurther manner in which he might have accomplished that effect.

So, death, particularly Michael Hennagin`s death, came to play a major part in the writing of The Night Watch. I chose as a source of inspiration for this piece Rembrandt`s painting of the same name for three reasons: Sara (my wife) and I will be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our first trip to Holland (Rembrandt`s homeland) in 2001; the composition of Rembrandt`s work provides amply interplay of shadow and light with the subject being the relative serenity of the central characters in the midst of hyperactivity; and, there just happens to be a drummer barely in the painting on the right side of the canvas.

The writing of the work seemed to flow effortlessly from start to finish. I`m sure that some technical discussions might be warranted as to how the tonalities of E and D flat seem to emerge as representations of light and shadow. There may have been something like that going on. But what does the appearance of G major mean? For now, all I can say is that it all just sort of happened. Perhaps that follows will be enough explanation.

I. Death`s Gatherin

The bells ring and the drum sounds the warning,

But Death is upon us too quickly.


Death in majesty

Who, with every deft and graceful swing of the scythe,

Will bestow its raiment upon one and all,

And cause us to play the lametable dirge.


Death`s gathering.


II. The Conflicted Youth



Hide here

Run there


Feel the cold breath that is upon you,

And the heart beats wildly.


Death will catch you, youth,

Whose belief is doubt.


And the heart beats no more.


III. The Night Watch


There will be a quiet moment,

There will be a lonely moment,

It will be the last moment

When Death comes,


And brings the Truth that sears the soul.


IV. The Unencumbered Youth


Why do you not hide, youth?

Death wants you.

Why do you not run?

Death will have you.

Are you not afraid?

Death will fight for you, youth.

What have you learned?


-notes by the composer.


In Movements I and III the xylophones and marimbas should roll any note value of a dotted eigth note or larger.

In Movements II and IV the xylophones and marimbas should roll any note value of a quarter note or larger.

The other instruments are to roll as indicated.



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