A prominent psychologist has commented that everyone in modern society exhibits the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). We are highly distracted and distractible, often frantically busy, veering from one emotional extreme to another, while being gullible consumers of every passing cultural fad, whether it be a flashy technological device or equally flashy postmodern ideology. We are unrooted creatures of the moment, and it is this inability to be rooted, to rest unshaken on a solid foundation, that is described by the phrase “the tyranny of the urgent.”
On the surface, The Tyranny of the Urgent appears to begin and end calmly, but these quiet moments bookend a series of episodes of increasing volume, unrest, and urgency. Scored for six players and co-commissioned by two local high school percussion ensembles, my idea for the piece’s extramusical theme came from simply standing and observing students at these and other schools. While I have tried to place moments of beauty within the work, The Tyranny of the Urgent should be understood as a message of warning.