For my STEAM project, I wanted to show the effects of asthma through a saxophone quartet composition. I included both the follow-along score from musescore as well as a stacked recording of myself playing all four parts together. (It could have been better with practice, but I only finished writing the score just last night lol) Ventus, meaning wind in Latin, is a composition for a standard saxophone quartet consisting of a soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone. Ventus has three movements, each carrying the same general themes, but with each progressing movement, the saxes start to play shorter and quieter to demonstrate how someone with asthma might start to feel their throat swell, making it harder and harder to breathe. Personally, I don’t suffer from asthma, but my dad’s eyes tear up and he gets mad sneezes from one little flower in the spring, so tackling something as common asthma was a close topic to me and made the project more interesting to explore. I considered adding a fourth movement in which the saxes all take a quick inhale through the instrument to simulate taking a breath through albuterol sulfate (inhaler) and proceed to blast through the themes at a crazy tempo and dynamic, but my poor little brain was fried after staring at too many notes for too long. I’m still happy with the final product, and I’d like to point out some smaller details that I really enjoyed adding to my composition. I already mentioned how with each movement, the saxes get quieter and can’t play as long of notes, but if you look at the end of each movement, you can see the saxes get off that last note faster each time, almost as if they’re running out of any and all breath they had, even to the point where the last measure doesn’t even fully resolve. This was a really tough position because I wanted to resolve the piece nicely, but I decided to stick to the idea and leave it unresolved, as someone with asthma might not exactly feel too hot as their throat is all swelled up over time. I also added in some actual heavy breathing into my composition in the third movement to add some extra effects. This was a really cool idea in the idea process, but forcefully pushing so much air out of my lings while also playing on the next beat was not exactly fun, but hey, you gotta serve the music. In the score, they play the breathing effects like notes, but in my recording, I tried to make them audible, which was tricky to do over the other horns. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this project, and while it wasn’t the best, I’m happy that I expanded to actual playing and I’m proud to supply an original recording of an original composition. This was my own push to do better than last semester, and I’d call it a success. I hope you enjoy it! Plus, if anyone with asthma listens, I’d love to hear any feedback you have. Thank you 🙂

One Comment

  1. Hi Jensen,

    I really enjoyed your steam project. As someone who played clarinet in elementary and middle school, it was really cool to see what I remembered about reading sheet music. I listened to the piece once before reading your take on it and while I did notice that the saxes got quieter with each movement, I was definitely able to hear all of the small things that you mentioned, like that the last measure does not fully resolve, and that each note ends faster as the piece goes on. Overall, I really enjoyed your performance and I thought that it embodied asthma very well.

    Teresa Brenner

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