Contraptions, John Cheetham

Contraptions for solo trumpet

John Cheetham

In the Words of…

Contraptions for solo trumpet consists of nine short movements exploring a variety of contemporary trumpet techniques and idioms. The whimsical titles of the movements conjure various mechanical devices, the functions of which range from providing fanciful transportation to ameliorating the human condition. This small collection may be considered a ‘companion’ to Concoctions, also for solo trumpet. The piece was written in 2008 and commissioned by the trumpet studio of Dr. Keith Benjamin, Professor of Trumpet, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.”

John Cheetham, on Contraptions

John E. Cheetham, Professor Emeritus of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Missouri-Columbia, served on that faculty from 1969-2000. His training included Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of New Mexico and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Washington. During his tenure at Missouri, he wrote compositions for virtually all media and many of his works have been performed in the United States and abroad. Much of his music has been commercially published, and since 2001, published by his own company, BoonesLick Press. Recordings of his works are available on Crystal, Concord, Pro-Arte, Summit, Cedille and Antara labels.

Dr. Cheetham has received commissions from many prestigious universities, respected institutions and music organizations including the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Gaudete Brass, Texas Tech University, the Summit Brass, the Atlanta Symphony Brass, the Central Oregon Symphony Assoc. and the Air Force Band of the Midwest. He has also received numerous commissions for solo works. Dr. Cheetham is a member of ASCAP and has received numerous ASCAP Plus awards since 1988. In addition, he won first prize in the Abraham Frost Competition in 1992 and was awarded a Centennial Distinguished Alumni Award in 1989 by the University of New Mexico.

A narration of the titles are included here as a matter of performance practice.

  • Galipolop: equestrian speed control; Cheetham paints the audience a wishful picture of a lever perhaps in place of the grip of a horse’s saddle. Our fictitious raconteur has realized only too late that this device exists only in our imagination, to our unfortunate chagrin.
  • Nacissiscope: for measuring self-adulation; the audience may envision powerful CEOs surrounding themselves with ‘yes-men,’ people who simply agree with their bosses for political or monetary gain, and from which no honest feedback can be ascertained; thus, no quality work can be accomplished.
  • Muzzlemeter: anti-bloviating device for loquacious college professors; this movement depicts the squawking of an overly verbose academic amidst the low rumble of a captive audience of his otherwise uninterested students (to his apparent chagrin).
  • Frenetix: motivator for lethargic college students; perhaps the tempo marking of quarter equals 132 and the adventurous intervals are motivation enough for college trumpet majors come jury time—who should have been working on our Clarke studies after all.
  • Dentagator: for do-it-yourself root canals; rather than take the title at its word, the device in question seems instead to show a poor fellow the lack of wisdom in attempting one’s own dental work as he drills in again and again only to strike a nerve.
  • Megolomaniaphone: for persons with delusions of grandeur; one needs only attempt to perform  to experience the effects of such a device, the marked tempo of quarter equals 116 and double-sixteenth plus eighth note pattern ought to elicit a cold sweat from many a horrified orchestral trumpet performer.
  • Myopticon: enables viewer “to see forest for the trees”; implores the performer to use dynamics and alternate fingerings to create a kind of positive and negative soundscape, not unlike the positive and negative space in a 2-dimensional piece of art.
  • Piddle Paddle: potty training device; the audience endures threat after threat on pain of this mythical contraption, until they are almost certainly wet in their seats. Zipadoo: a vehicle which runs on hot air asks the performer and audience to enjoy a warp-speed hot air balloon.