for Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
by Cooper Ottum (2014)
Recorded live May 7th, 2015 – White Recital Hall, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Performed by students of the UMKC Saxophone Studio
Breathe in is an experiment in revealing the tricks of the trade.
Audiences expect a certain amount of abstraction from the messy details of musical performance, and musicians tend to do their best to oblige. But really, playing an instrument is a messy business. Brass players have to (discreetly) empty the spit-and-condensation buildup from their horns; clarinetists, saxophonists, bassoonists, and oboists must (occasionally) suck the spit from their reeds. Believe it or not, conductors may get tired three quarters of the way through a fifty minute symphony, and even break a sweat.
Worst of all, musicians have to breathe.
What a horrifically human necessity to reveal to the audience! Sure, an occasional deep breath from the concertmaster or a piano soloist indicating a furious downbeat is all right, but to reveal for more than a fleeting second that breathing might be involved in sound production is to expose the great Achilles Heel of musical performance.
For this piece, though, ignore all that. Inhale, exhale. Embrace imperfection as a noble counterpart to perfection. Be conspicuously human. Breathe in.
Breathe in was completed in December 2014, in Kansas City, Kansas.