Larry Clark (b. 1963) is a prolific composer of educational music for band and orchestra. He started his career in the public schools of Florida before making his name as a composer. He is currently the vice-president and editor-in-chief for Carl Fischer Music in New York City, which publishes all of his over 200 pieces.
Magma was written in 2006 with beginning bands in mind. Its title comes from the molten rock that collects under volcanoes. Says Clark:
Magma is a bold and aggressive composition for the youngest of students. It uses only the first six notes learned in most beginning band methods (B-flat to G). The key of the piece, however, is C minor, giving it the darkness that I was looking for in this composition. Moreover, it uses only whole, half and quarter-note rhythms in the winds. The piece opens in unison with a fanfare-type gesture that fans out into full harmony and contains interjections by the percussion section. The main theme of the piece is then stated for the first time by the trumpets with punctuated rhythms in the lower voices. The upper woodwinds are added, playing a counter line, and the lower voices lengthen the harmonic pad while the trumpets repeat the main theme. A short development section presents an interplay between the upper and lower voices and the percussion, leading back to the final statement of the main theme. A brief coda follows, marked by a return of the unison fanfare material from the opening of the piece.
Due to the key of this piece, I felt it necessary to provide an alternative trombone part that avoids sixth position and the change between B-flat and C from first to sixth positions for younger students with shorter arms. Use your discretion when choosing which trombone part works best for your ensemble.
It has been my pleasure to have the opportunity to write this piece. I hope you and your students enjoy it and find it useful for your program.
A middle school band plays Magma:
If a more professional recording is what you’re after, listen here.
There is also a string orchestra version of Magma, played here by an elementary school honors orchestra:
Curious about magma the substance? Check this out:
Larry Clark has a terrific website where you can learn more about him and his music.