My initial aural image in writing this piece was the mournful but rich quality that these instruments can bring to bear. And so I turned to a rather sad spiritual for source material entitled “I want to die easy (when I die).” Shortly into the piece, however, I became seduced by the other strengths of the instruments, including their ability to “punch” complex rhythms and display rich power. So the spiritual quickly evolved into a rather macabre dance, with shouts and moaning cutting through the rhythmic contortions. The title, then, suggests a laughing at death (dancing on my grave...), while throughout the piece, a sardonic darkness lurks.
(Note that the horn version is slightly different from the trombone version.)
The piece was commissioned and premiered by the Ithaca College Trombone Troupe in 1990.