Michael S. Horwood


Date: Jan. 1973
Duration: 12:00

Program Notes
Sound Clips
Score Samples
Related Works
Performance Chronology

Program Notes

This work was composed in 1973 on a suggestion from Tony Mergel, conductor and founder of the Humber College Studio One Jazz Orchestra (Etobicoke, Ontario). At the time I was also heavily involved with experimental music, twelve-tone theory, and the percussion ensemble. Roger Flock, director of percussion at Humber, liked the idea of incorporating a percussion ensemble within the conventional jazz orchestra framework. Thus, 5,3,4 became a work for jazz orchestra with augmented percussion.

I had also vividly recalled a performance in Buffalo, New York, of Alexander Mosolov's groundbreaking work, The Iron Foundry, with its impressive parts for heavy percussion. Consequently I employed multiple bass drums and a steel I-beam girder in the percussion section.

The title refers to the work's division into three movements (played without pause): a slow introductory movement (five minutes), a fast middle movement (three minutes) and a still faster finale (four minutes). The middle movement features three solos which can be spontaneously improvised or planned out according to a grid which is provided in that player's part. The three movements total twelve minutes in duration and thus, reflect my preoccupation at the time with serialism and group theory. The piece is essentially an abstract, atonal jazz work with various structures and durations, controlled by mathematical permutations and combinations of the number "12". Little known is the fact that this work used the same tone row as Andromeda, which is in a way a companion piece, at least originally. However, both works are miles apart structurally and emotionally. The five-note motive which introduces the finale here is quoted at the climax of 5,3,4 and the final climax in Andromeda (and by extension, Symphony No. 3, Andromeda).

Sound Clips

First section: 6 before D (of T letters) to 7 after D
Beginning of middle section at letter F (quarter = 120): guitar solo
Percussion lead-in to third section (quarter = 160) and beginning of third section: 10 before K to 8 after L
Full band statement of the theme near the beginning of the coda: letter N to 18 after N

Score Samples

Full score, page 1: opening to measure 8
Pages 13-14: measures 59-65
Pages 17-18: measures 76-93
Pages 24-25: measures 147-177

These score samples are from the revised version of 5,3,4.

Related Works

With jazz elements or influences
With twelve-tone or serialism elements


2 Eb Alto Saxophones (one alternates with Bb Clarinet)
2 Bb Tenor Saxophones
1 Eb Baritone Saxophone

1 French Horn
4 Bb Trumpets
3 Trombones
1 Bass Trombone




Timpani (or Vibraphone)

Drum Set

5 Percussion

  1. Triangle, Slap Stick, Güiro, Castanets, Bass Drum
  2. Tambourine, Ratchet, Slap Stick, 2 Congo Drums, Bass Drum
  3. Wood Block, 4 Tom Toms, Bass Drum (from a drum set with tight heads)
  4. Wood Claves, Large and Small Suspended Cymbals, Large and Small Tam Tams
  5. I-Beam Girder, Maracas, Snare Drum

Performance Chronology

Mar. 24, 1974 [premiere] Tony Mergel, conductor. Humber College Studio One Jazz Orchestra. Etobicoke, Ontario.
Apr. 29, 1979 Tony Mergel, conductor. Humber College Stage Band. Etobicoke, Ontario.
Feb. 24, 1984 Timothy Maloney, conductor. Stetson University School of Music Jazz Ensemble. Elizabeth Hall. Stetson University, Florida.