I composed Triton, the Rogue (2019) as part of a larger musical suite for wind ensemble entitled The Moons, a response to Gustav Holst’s The Planets suite for orchestra. While Holst’s The Planets depicts each planet (except Earth) according to its mythology and astrology, The Moons focuses heavily on the science and astronomy behind each moon’s story.
Triton, the Rogue follows the origin story of Triton, the moon of Neptune. Billions of years ago, Triton used to be its own world–a dwarf planet in the outer solar system much like Pluto today. However, over eons, Triton’s imperfect orbit around the sun crossed paths with Neptune’s orbit, spelling disaster for the two worlds. In a violent clash, Triton’s massive gravity destroyed the vast majority of Neptune’s ancient moons, flinging them in all directions. In the aftermath of that astronomical collision, Neptune’s gravity captured Triton, converting the once dwarf planet into a moon. Furthermore, Triton’s orbit around Neptune is still imperfect: eventually, Triton will be pulled apart by Neptune and transform into a beautiful ring around Neptune (similar to Saturn’s ring). Musically, Triton, the Rogue illustrates this narrative through emphasizing the harsh tritone harmony (an irresistible musical pun) to represent Triton’s roguish characteristics. The piece climaxes in a violent clash between all forces of the ensemble, representing moons slamming into each other in a spectacular event. Triton, the Rogue concludes with a serene depiction of Triton as the ring of Neptune, colored by radiant seventh and ninth-based harmonies.
Special thanks to the UT Wind Symphony for recording the work and Shiree Williams for his wonderfully enthusiastic conducting.
And a huge thank-you to Dr. Yevgeniy Sharlat for advising me on the composition my Plan II Senior Thesis covering the piece and Dr. Andrew Dell’Antonio for advising me on the Plan II Senior Thesis as well.
My full academic thesis on the piece: