Structurally, chi is very simple: the first half is slow, the second fast; there are many different modes employed, usually with the note E as tonic - although none of them are conventionally major or minor. Much of the material proceeds by single or half-steps (scale motives), or by major and minor thirds (arpeggio motives): likewise the harmony
There are two important melodies: the first is stated by a euphonium solo shortly after the start of the piece, then by cornets and trombones as a chorale about a minute later and at the end by various combinations of instruments. This melody teeters on the brink of hummability, unlike the second which initially appears, heavily disguised, in the basses. Its first real outing, after several false starts, is in the "fast" section, where it is played by soprano cornet, flugel, tenor, glockenspiel and xylophone.
There are two other ways of looking at chi : one is that it is a relentless search for the key of E major (a very remote key for brass) which turns out to be lydian anyway; the other is that the piece is a study in ever increasing ferocity catalysed by the note C sharp.
Chi is the Chinese word for energy, vitality, life-force etc. as in, for example, Ta'i Chi
The first performance was given in the Barbican,Yorkby the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain conducted by Frank Renton. The work was commissioned by the BBC.
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