A “five-Mississippi rush” is often used in pickup football games where there is no offensive line and the defense is obligated to wait approximately three seconds before crossing the line of scrimmage to pursue the quarterback. The defensive players charged with rushing the quarterback chant out loud, as quickly as possible, getting louder as they reach the end and begin running: ONEmississippiTWOmississippiTHREEmississippiFOURmississippiFIVEMISSISSIPPI.
Beginning with the rhythm of this chant as the germ of the piece, I composed Five Mississippi Rush from the combination of three things suggested to me by the title: “five,” Mississippi’s heritage as the birthplace of the blues, and hurrying to a conclusion.
- Beginning with the title riff performed on the snare, the piece contains many five-pitch motives, five-note rhythmic constructions, and five-element phrases.
- There are sections of the piece that are quite literally the blues, undisguised in its twelve-bar form and standard harmonization. However, the “straight” sections of the work also owe their melodic and harmonic construction to the blues scale. Among these are simultaneously sounding major and minor thirds (the blued note), augmented fourths, flat sevenths, and tritones (the interval between the third and seventh of the omnipresent dominant seventh chords of the blues progression).
- The composition begins with the apparent purpose of reaching its end quickly, but a slow, swinging blues intrudes. The straight-ahead and swing ideas alternate, interact, and combine before a recapitulation of the opening marks the beginning of the rush to the conclusion.
Five Mississippi Rush was commissioned by Mississippi’s Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmaster Fraternity.