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“Tyche” was the Greek goddess of fortune. The Romans called her “Fortuna”. She was the deity of beneficial outcomes, the bringer of good fortune, of good luck. Certainly all citizens wanted to be on Tyche’s good side!

My piece, Tyche, is abstract, but simple and direct. The wind ensemble is completely notated in every detail. Even the silences are carefully controlled. I wrote the piece quickly, improvising, then notating my improvisations in a process that was both intellectual and intuitional. The ensemble is to play its part sensitively and dramatically, but the same way in every performance. The conductor is to insure that the ensemble plays its part musically and correctly while (almost) ignoring the soloist(s).

The soloist or soloists are free to play – anything – as much or as little in whatever form may seem appropriate in the moment. A couple of long silences in the wind ensemble part indicate “solo cadenza opportunities”, but I defer from instructing the soloist(s) as to what or how much to play throughout the work.

To put it simply: this piece is about the controlled meeting the unexpected, about the predestined meeting the spontaneous. The result, in my experience, is surprising. Happy accidents abound! The two opposing elements combine in a world where fresh creativity swims contentedly in a sea of convincing predetermination. Finally, it all seems “meant to be”. Perhaps a confusing concept. But isn't it more than a little like life itself?

I have spent a lifetime learning to improvise in various styles and contexts. For many years I have taught a course in free improvisation, a mandatory course for all senior music majors here at UNF. This work flows directly out of my wonderful experiences with the students of MUT 4650. Tyche is dedicated to Dr. Gordon Brock and the UNF Wind Symphony.

Gary Smart


Tyche for Wind Ensemble and Improvising Soloist or Soloists was performed by the UNF Wind Symphony, conducted by Dr. Gordon Brock with soloist Gary Smart, at the 2014 CBDNA/NBA Southern Division Conference.

Score of Tyche is available here: