This descriptive piece commemorates a visit I made to Niagara Falls back in October 1984.
At the beginning, the music is very quiet; the falls are a long way away! But as itprogresses, the noise of the falls becomes louder and louder. The piece has three principal motifs, which run through most of it. Descending crochets signify the water going over the cliff, and rising quavers the spray coming back up. And the frequent discord (a major chord with an additional 2nd) represents wetness.
Right after my first sight of the falls, I see the “Maid of the Mist” boat phut-phutting out into the stream, with horns and E flat basses on the off-beat. There is also an “Indian” war-cry in this section from the trombone, euphonium and B flat bass. Then, an extended climax describes my first view of the full majesty of the falls.
After this climax dies away, I go up the tower near the falls. The music goes into the minor key, and loses the discord. It isn’t wet up there!
In the final section, I stand close to the falls; almost close enough, it seems, to put an arm in. The music becomes very loud. Twice I look aside, but when I turn back the falls are still there. At the end, the descending crochet motif takes over entirely, and a timpani roll is followed by a classic final chord.