Composed: 1992
Premiere: 20th Century Consort, Sonoklect Festival, May 3, 1992
Duration: 14 minutes
Instrumentation:  flute, violin, cello, piano


I.  Riding the Easy Five Mile Sluice
II. Jinn Song
III.  Hard Knock Jam

    Along with the development of pitch sets in each movement of this work, a definite attention was given to the use of transparent textures, almost in the style of Mozart.  In addition, the first movement, Riding the Easy Five Mile Sluice, was planned according to a formula of combining notes that was inspired by James Gleick’s book, Chaos.  In the book, analysis of types of turbulence showed the predominantly predictable nature and yet sometimes chaotic moments of, for instance, the motion of water through a pipe or of wind currents in a tunnel.  It also stated that . . . “the attracting pull of four points . . . creates basins of attractions. . . . But each particle does not move independently – its motion depends very much on the motion of its neighbors – and in a smooth flow, the degrees of freedom can be few.”  The formulae of motion through space seemed quite applicable to the sound-motion of music.  Interestingly, as the music was developing, it reminded me of water flowing gently but always continuously down a mystical sluice, turning, sometimes very quickly, in new directions as the sluice turns to skirt obstructions.  Jinn (mythical spirits that influence mankind for good and evil) sing a simple song accompanied by flute and imaginary guitar in the second movement, while the Hard Knock Jam, rollicks with its percussive hammering and a persistent beat in the last movement.


"...But it was a piece by Margaret Brouwer, a composer based in Virginia who will soon join the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music, that caught my ear.  Her "Skyriding," for flute, violin, cello and piano, made no obvious concessions toward styles of the day and inhabited its own peculiarly bewitching harmonic world...Despite its complexity, this language was always lucid and transparent; strong, fluid rhythms gave it life.  The first movement, in particular, achieved a marvelous, mercurial lyric flow."  - Alex Ross, The New York Times, May 1, 1996

"Margaret Brouwer's "Skyriding", by contrast, was a delightful and evocative trip through fresh sonorities, transparent textures, lively rhythms and unexpected turns of phrase. Flutist Heidi Ruby-Kushious, violinist Yoko Moore, cellist Weiss and pianist Jones gave a fine performance worthy of a real concert."  - Wilma Salisbury, The Plain Dealer, June 2, 1998

"...full of color and variety. In fact, there are such a lot of percussive effects in and on the piano that it almost sounds as if there were an extra player there. This is a particularly lively and effective piece." - American Record Guide, 2004