Wait a Minute

I grew up in Texas. We have a saying about our weather: “if you don’t like it . . . wait a minute.” Driving distances can be long between towns and getting caught in a quickly developing storm can be terrifying, yet somewhat mystical. All source sounds were recorded inside a ‘94 Honda del Sol driving on a Texas highway. Sounds were processed using C sound.


Where Morning Dawns and Evening Fades

For Alto Saxophone and CD.
Psalm 65:8 “Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.” (NIV) The saxophone is the driving force behind this piece. The processed sounds on the CD are derived from a recording of my saxophone duet, A Chase. The shape of the work is designed to emulate the dawning of a new day, the labor of the day and the quiet of the evening sunset.
Commission and premiere by saxophonist Stacy Maugans of Valparaiso University.


Little Nikko

Nicolás Useche was my friend and fellow student at the University of North Texas while we both were working on our Masters degrees. He was 30 years old when he was tragically killed in an auto accident. One of the projects that Nicolás and I had worked on together was for each member of the class to use a common sound source to develop their own piece of music. So, it is proper to use these sounds to honor Nicolás.


Almost . . .

Almost . . . is a piece about waiting. There is a certain tension between our expectations and reality. Usually, there is a time period that takes place between the birth of an expectation and the resulting reality. This time can be short, as when we wait at a restaurant for our favorite meal, or much longer as when we are waiting to win a competition. Much of life’s experience is spent in this “in between” time — the time of Almost . . . The source material for this piece was recorded on the campus of the University of North Texas in the fall of 2003. I used Peak, Audiosculpt, SoundHack and Nuendo to create Almost...


Shimmering Waves

One of the most powerful concepts of the 20th century is the idea that any complex particle can be represented as the sum of many simple particles. Specifically, this thought gave birth to quantum mechanics in science and additive synthesis in music. In Shimmering Waves, I experimented with breaking down one sound into it’s many components — the partials that make up the timbre that we recognize as a bell. These four simpler sound waves are harmonically related as the pitches E-B-E-F#. I also cross-synthesized these four waves with several other sounds, making four versions of each sound. This way, each other sound retains something of the four pitches. The end result reminds me of watching the ripples of water on a lake shimmer in the moonlight.


The Commute

Anyone who spends more than an hour a day in your car driving to and from work or school will enjoy this piece. Writing electroacoustic music is often a serious endeavor for the composer who is experimenting with new sounds, software and techniques. The Commute is all of these things to me, but it is also a lighthearted salute to the past three years of a closer relationship with my little Honda than I could have ever imagined.



I arrived at the campus of UNT with a limited understanding of the possibilities of creating music with a computer. Shakedown was my first real attempt to create a meaningful sonic experience out of everyday sounds, that were, of course, altered by a series of computer analysis and resynthesis tools. This experience opened my ears to the sonic potential of just about anything, even my dog, Taaffe



Works of Deborah J Monroe


O Heavenly Word

A new hymn for Advent using words taken from Author Unknown.

O heavenly Word, eternal Light,

begotten of the Father’s might,

who, in these latter days, was born

for blessing to a world forlorn;

pour light upon us from above,

and fire our hearts with ardent love;

that as we hear thy truth today,

all wrong desires may burn away.

And when as Judge Thou drawest nigh,

the secrets of all hearts to try;

when sinners meet their awful doom,

and saints attain their heavenly home;

O let us not, for evil past,

be driven from Thy face at last;

but with thy saints for evermore

behold Thee, love Thee, and adore and adore.

To God the Father, God the Son,

and God the Spirit, Three in One,

praise, honor, might and glory be

from age to age eternally.

O Heavenly Word Major.mp3



Let Thy Blood

Written during the complete fog of “first-time-mommyhood” all I can say is that I have loved this text for some time, but hesitated to use it more often because of the VERY traditional feel of the music. I was listening to music from Kentucky when I heard this melody in my head. My guitar player keeps wanting to play harmonica instead.

Let Thy blood in mercy poured,

Let Thy gracious body broken,

Be to me, O gracious Lord,

Of Thy boundless love the token.

Thou didst give Thyself for me,

Now I give myself to Thee.

Wilt Thou own the gift I bring?

Jesus I give myself to Thee.

Thou didst die that I might live;

Blessèd Lord, Thou cam’st to save me:

All that love of God could give

Jesus by His sorrows gave me.

By the thorns that crowned Thy brow,

By the spear wound and the nailing,

By the pain and death, I now

Claim, O Christ, Thy love unfailing.


The Breath of Life

was commissioned as a work for Alto Saxophone and Viola. This combination of two very different instruments motivated the composer to find some common ground. Both are very lyrical instruments capable of producing phrases similar to a human breath. The open strings of the viola inspired the tonal language of the piece. This progression of ascending 5ths evokes the first breath in human history – when the Creator breathed life into a lump of clay and made man.  –

Commission by Dr. Stacy Maugans for 15th World Saxophone Congress. Premiere scheduled for July 2009.



The Breath of Life.mp3 7.8MB

A Shepherd’s Prayer

The prophets promised he’d come –

The Anointed One to save us.

Our desperation grows,

There is no governor,

There is no King,

There is no shepherd for our people

There are no answers

There is no relief

God is quiet, no voice, no whisper

How long, how long

How long Yahweh, how long?…

Will this be the generation to welcome him?

My father has waited, and his father before,

And even my heart pounds in my chest

At the thought that I might see him with my own eyes.

Yes, in blazing glory, the angels tell:

The wait is over, the time has come

For peace eternal, for peace that cannot be undone.

Come now, come see him, leave flocks behind!

He’s just an infant, our God is now a man!

Our King is born!  I want to believe it.

A peasant shepherd, can I receive it?

He’s only tiny, A baby lamb Himself

And yet he saw the making of the world.

Here in the stillness of the night,

I tremble in his presence.

In the damp and murky darkness

The tears of a hundred generations wash our faces.

In the cold and hollow shadows,

Our joy will break our hearts.

Commission by Cindy Telisak for the choir of Faith Church Anglican, Plano, Texas.
lyrics by Cindy Telisak

CCLI # 5292248


The Mystery of Godliness

Text from 1 Timothy 3:16, NIV:

He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.

Commission by John R. Monroe for the choir of Faith Church Anglican, Plano, Texas.
CCLI# 5201648


Caravan of Variations

A set of variations provides the perfect balance between freedom and fences for me. Inherent in the notes of the theme are all the intervalic and motivic potential for hours of music. As I listened to various recordings of Caravan, I found myself drawn to the bass line, almost more than the actual melody. And, since the piece is written for the solo bass player, it seemed appropriate to give the audience a window into the practice room of the steadfast bass player, faithfully practicing parts that the rest of us might find a bit boring. In those long hours, I can only imagine what sort of variations bring themselves into being.
Commission and premiere by bassist Charles Federle of the University of North Texas.

Ricochet Rabbit is variation #2:
Ricochet_Rabbit.mp3   Ricochet.pdf


I have always been drawn to the marriage of text and music. And the expressive texts of King David of Israel that are found in the book of Psalms offer a wellspring of every different kind of emotion known to mankind. I have chosen four texts that each describe man’s relationship to God in a unique way. I’ve borrowed the instrumentation from Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, exchanging the narrator for a soprano. Also, the works of Steve Reich, Tehillim and The Cave, influenced my writing of this piece.

Adoration: Adoration_clip.mp3 Adoration.pdf    
PODCAST (new!)
Confession_clip.mp3 Confession.pdf
Thanksgiving_clip.mp3 Thanksgiving.pdf
Supplication_clip.mp3 Supplication.pdf

A Chase

A Chase was inspired by the unique sonorities of the saxophone. I wanted to experiment with contrasting the distinct sounds of two different players on the same instrument. In doing this, I found the intervals of a unison and a second to be full of resonance with a variety of rhythmic possibilities. Later in the piece the intervals of a fifth and sixth take on similar patterns as the previous material, but open up the lines in preparation for a flurry of an ending. This piece should not be taken too seriously, as many times while writing, I pictured two kids chasing each other around the playground. In spots, they are tired of running and take a break, just long enough to regain their breath and begin the chase again. At the end, they collapse, tired and worn out, and think of what new game to play next.


Tire Swing

For Trombone Quartet



This piece was begun shortly after the 9/11 tragedy. As a believer in a loving God, I was haunted by the images I had seen live on TV. However, as the facts came in, it became evident that many more should have been affected. Thousands of folks just didn’t go to work that day, or missed their flights; they were spared. But then as the days went on, we each experienced a flood of various emotions as we grieved together as a nation. Sketches was my attempt to express these diverse emotions through music. Leonard Bernstein said, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” The terrorists meant this action for evil, but God, as always, is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.


Sorrow to Joy

Death conquered by life. Sorrow transformed to joy. These are the miracles of faith, yet witnessed by many before their very eyes.


Variations on a Theme by Johannes Brahms

In high school, I studied piano with what I considered to be a very demanding teacher. I worked on this ballade for quite some time and was never quite satisfied. It was a strenuous piece for my hands, so this is my revenge. If you can't beat it, use it as a theme for a variation set, right?

Variations on a Theme by Johannes Brahms was awarded second prize in the International Alliance for Women in Music Search for New Music in 1994. Variations is published by
Arsis Press.


I want to offer special thanks to the talented and brave performers who have performed and commissioned new works from my studio.

Want to commission a new work? Read the Meet the Composer guide to Commissioning Music.  

     email: debbie@deborahjmonroe.com