Chamber music for winds and strings by Pamela J. Marshall
Ravello Records

Dance of the Hoodoos

quartet for oboe, violin, cello, piano


Dance of the Hoodoos was my contribution to the Rapido contest’s 2-week composing challenge in June 2012. The theme was dance. The oboe’s opening melody and the heavy-footed music of part 2 brought to mind the eerie hoodoos near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, which I had seen a couple of years before. When we first saw them at twilight, they looked like looming ghosts.

The Music

The music begins as a meditative incantation, a secret call to come together for the dance. The continually soft piano chords are part of the secret. When the dance breaks forth, embellished with syncopation and counterpoint, a three-note stomp motive is its anchor.

The oboe makes the secret call.

As the introduction proceeds the soft, dissonant piano chords become rhymically more like a sarabande, still very soft.

The second section begins with the three-note stomp motive and the rising pizzicato phrase in the piano (bar 3) and violin (bar 5) is the core motivic material, continually transformed throughout the movement.

The forceful stomp motive comes back as a softer accompaniment. The music at E shows the juxtaposition of extreme contrast, as well as the rising motive in new forms.

A few bars later the rising motive becomes arpeggios and the forte interjection again becomes a whisper. Silence precedes a big outburst.



I made this collage of the rock formations in Yellowstone using photos taken by myself and David Emerson between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Golden Gate (northwest corner of the park). The location is a scenic spot with a short side road where you can wander among the ghostly white rocks. When we first drove through at dusk, the looming hoodoos here looked haunted.

I created the various color variations using Topaz Labs Photoshop plugins.


Sheet Music - Dance of the Hoodoos for oboe, violin, viola, cello