SWAT is a seven-minute work for symphonic band. The instrumentation follows the standard symphonic band arrangement, featuring multiple performers per wind part, as well as piano, timpani, and four percussion parts.
As the title suggests, SWAT is influenced by my own experience with a SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team raid in the Fall of 2009. The composition follows the general chronological order of events of the raid, featuring the progression from sleep, waking, the raid itself, and finally to the period of reflection and post-event trauma. Furthermore, the music motivically, texturally, rhythmically, and instrumentally reflects the intense physical, mental, and emotional stress of the actual event.
As mentioned above, the formal structure of SWAT is loosely influenced by the progression of events that transpired the night of the SWAT team raid. In this respect, the piece unfolds as a three-part form based on the following distinct events from the raid: the period of sleep prior to the raid (Section A), the time in which the SWAT team searched the residence (Section B), and finally the traumatic reflection after the event (Section C). While the inspiration for this structure is narrative in nature the composition itself is not strictly programmatic, but instead features loose musical portraits of each of these events. With this in mind, the intent of SWAT is not to retell the story of the raid, but rather to musically portray the extreme psychological impact of the experience.
The harmonic language of SWAT is based on a nine-note set (9-4 ) derived from an extended tertian sonority that forms the foundation of the pitch-material for the piece. Different subsets of this original set are explored throughout the work, forming an ever-changing yet structurally cohesive harmonic surface. In terms of macro-structure, the original set (T0) is used throughout Section A, the tritone transposition (T6) is used throughout Section B, and their combination (forming the complete chromatic collection), is used in Section C.