MEGADONT, William Dougherty


Andorra Sax-Fest 2017. Left to right: Daniel Miguel, Joan Martí-Frasquier, Francisco Molina

This is an excellent chamber music piece to work on the sound, the dynamics, the intonation and the coloring palette with other baritone saxophones. I encourage you to work on it!

The composer

WILLIAM DOUGHERTY (b. 1988) is an American composer, sound artist, educator and music writer. He has won some composition Prizes (the 2021 Luciano Berio Rome Prize in Music Composition) and some awards and recognitions in the USA and Europe. His compositions have been performed internationally by prestigious ensembles in important contemporary music festivals.

Click here to read more about the composer.

Details of the work

Publisher: Babel Scores
Duration: Around 8:00
Range (written): D#3 – A#5 (1st, 2nd and 3rd baritones)
TECHNIQUES: Wide range of dynamics and timbres, slaps, altissimo register, ¼ tone accidentals, multiphonics, overtones, glissandi, intonation, solid pulsation.
PERFORMANCE: Sound coloring palette, conjunction with the other baritones.

Meaning and structure

MEGADONT for three baritone saxophones is a work centered on different textures of layered multiphonics, pitched slaps and imitative glissandi figures. The pitch content arises out of a blurred unison, that, in combination with overtone-based multiphonics eventually opens to a pure fifth – the 2nd and 3rd partials of an ‘imaginary’ unplayable low fundamental. This then expands even wider to the 10th, 11th, and 12th partials in the uppermost range of the instrument. The title, a zoological term, is used to describe animals with very large teeth. (William Dougherty, 2017)

MEGADONT is a work originally composed for three baritone saxophones in 2013. It is not a very hard piece but it is quite demanding on the control of the breath (the work has very long phrases), dynamics (especially from ppp to mp), the altissimo register and multiphonics and overtones.

The sound texture produced by the overtones, some multiphonics and 1/4 tones is really beautiful. Transitions between unisons and partials create a wonderful atmosphere, in my opinion. On the other hand, the use of slaps breaks the verticality of the piece and add some rhythm and pulse.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to work on Dougherty’s MEGADONT with me.

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