Grade Level: 5

Duration: ~7'

Canis Majoris - All Parts

  • Canis Majoris is an unfathomably massive star located in the constellation Canis Major. This red hypergiant is 3,900 light years away from our planet and is one of the largest stars we know of. I designed this piece as a programmatic illustration as to what a journey through space to this star would be like.The piece starts out with a soft clarinet ostinato that appears from nowhere, accompanied by bowed crotales. This symbolizes the experience of being on Earth, looking up at a lone twinkling star in the night sky. The piece then grows in volume as more instruments enter the scene. When the tempo suddenly changes, I want the musicians and audience to imagine traveling through space, passing planets and other cosmic events. As the piece goes on, we experience many different moods and emotions that symbolize the emotional turmoil that entails being far from home. As we “get closer” to the star, we also experience many chaotic and polyphonic moments in the music that finalize at the end with a full-band, E-flat major chord. The piece starts in C major and goes back and forth between C major and E-flat major, as well as periodic shifts to other distantly related keys. These chromatic mediately related keys really emphasize the galactic sound I want to be portrayed by the ensemble.

  • Piccolo

    2 Flutes

    2 Oboes

    2 Bassoons

    3 Bb Clarinets

    Bb Bass Clarinet

    Bb Contrabass Clarinet (optional but preferred)

    2 Eb Alto Saxophones

    Bb Tenor Saxophone

    Eb Baritone Saxophone


    3 Bb Trumpets

    4 Horns in F

    3 Tenor Trombones

    Bass Trombone

    Euphonium Tuba

    Double Bass (optional but preferred)


    Timpani (Low to high: Eb, G, Bb, C)

    Percussion 1: Crotales, Xylophone

    Percussion 2: Marimba, Cymbals, Tam-Tam, Wind Chimes*

    Percussion 3: Vibraphone, 4 Tom-Toms, Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal

    Percussion 4: Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Tubular Bells, Tambourine, Crash Cymbals, China Cymbal, Wind chimes*

    Percussion 5: Wind Chimes*, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-Tam, Triangle

    Percussion 6: Bass