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Shock Therapy Variations - 2008                                                                



Chamber version:

(S.Tromb+S.Guitar *10*1 *1 / 1000/ Traps + Perc  / 10110)


Composed for Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, for soloist Scott Good and Tim Brady - funded by the Ontario Arts Council.


Chamber orchestra version:

(S.Tromb+ *1*1*1Sx*1/1120/Perc/Traps/Pno/Accordion/E.Guitar/11111 + Video and Amplification)


  • Premiere Chamber: November 1, 2008, The Music Gallery, Toronto/Ontario, ECM+,  Véronique Lacroix - Conductor, Tim Brady - Electric Guitar, Scott Good - Trombone

  • Premiere Chamber Orchestra: May 22, 2010, Roundhouse Theater, Vancouver/British Columbia, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Evan Mitchell - Conductor, Scott Good - Trombone


1. Shock theme

2. The critical moment

3. Re-writing the laws at breakneck speed

4. Implementation

5. Coda: shantytown horizon


Program Note:


Shock Therapy Variations is the first work I composed as a solo piece for myself to perform.  I was very interested in creating a work which combined new ideas I have been developing as a performer, specifically in the area of improvisation, but within modern classical notation and in an ensemble setting.  The addition of solo improvising guitar allowed for improvisational dialog to occur, yet within a structured framework.  Several factors needed to be taken into account.  A cohesive structure is for me, the key element of my compositions. So for my own needs as a composer, I searched for ways in which there could be a fair degree of freedom for the improvisation, yet also allow for the work to maintain a sense of direction in terms of its harmony, melody, texture, and form.


Unlike jazz music, this composition is not based on a set of chords, but rather is a series of variations on a 24 tone row.   Within, it contains the motives, melodic shapes, and harmonic tendencies for the entire work.  Like a set of traditional variations, the row undertakes many radical transformations during the course of the piece, and is utilized according to the emotional and form driven nature of each section.   The rhythm of the music is often left to be performed loosely, which allow the performers to listen and react, without having to abide by the overriding force of meter.





























Meet the next generation of Canadian composers

Sarah Petrescu, Times Colonist, November 06, 2008


"One of the highlights of the show was Scott Good's Shock Therapy Variations, which takes improvisational inspiration from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and John Coltrane - never a bad thing.


Good, 36, who completed his Doctor of Music degree at the University of Toronto in composition, is now the composer in residence at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The most pleasurable part of this piece is the interplay between classical traditions and other styles of music like rock and jazz. A shredding electric guitar solo, rocking drums and Good freestyling on the trombone give an edge, while the ensemble maintains the feel that this is a meticulous composition. It's a daring juxtaposition that works."



David Fujino, The Live Music Report, November 1, 2008


"Scott Good's "Shock Therapy Variations" was music inspired by Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Where the book examines the stages of shock that societies go through when a disaster strikes, the composer/trombonist explored the area in between notated and improvised music with his wildly woolly and free solos. Here, Tim Brady's guitar projected through the sounds of sliding strings, and after successive episodes of hearty outbursts and heavy smears, Brady emerged very Arabic and scalar in the last peaceful moments of this outsized composition, a rambunctious example of freedom within form."


Contemporary composers worth hearing.

Richard Todd, The Ottawa Citizen, November 11, 2008


"Scott Good's Shock Therapy Variations also included Brady's guitar along with the composer's own trombone. This piece, paradoxically, was more grounded in classical form than any of the others, yet was the most gloriously cacophonic of them all. "

The source of inspiration for this piece is Naomi Klein's seminal book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.  Her work has had a deep impact on how I perceive the world.  And feeling strongly about its message, I decided to try and express my thoughts about it through music.  Shock Therapy Variations is divided into 5 sections (played without pause), each intended to outline the principals of the so-called "shock doctrine".  Beginning with shock theme, aggressive and painful music soon dissipates. The quieter sounds of the critical moment, refer to the time shortly after shock where society in a state of disillusionment is at its most vulnerable. Fast, agitated music follows in re-writing the laws at breakneck speed.  Then is the implementation, where the new laws are put into practice, with or without consent.


Here, the music is mostly metered, like to the coordinated

steps of the soldier - relentless and unforgiving - almost 

absurd.  Finally, we are left with coda: shantytown horizon - a lonely song to accompany the view of a vast horizon of millions of people destitute from the fallout of the new ruling order.  Here, the Maqam Saba, a mode in Middle Eastern classical music, is alluded to for its emotional power.

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