Trumpet octet sheet music for The Lotus Eater is available at:
The Lotus Eater
Trumpet Octet Sheet Music PDF
by Eddie Lewis
What is a “lotus eater”?
When you look up the term “lotus eaters” (plural), you will find reference to Greek mythology. There was an island on which the lotus plant (something we don’t know its identity today – but we know it was a narcotic) was very prevalent. So the term “lotus eaters” (plural) refers to what we used to call “pot heads” when I was in high school.
But no, I am not a drug user and I would not have titled my piece after drug users (mythological or otherwise) if I had known there was another meaning.
When I wrote Lotus Eater, it was before the internet was what it has become today. In the 90’s I did’t commonly look to the internet for definitions and synonyms (as I do today – sad to admit). No, in the 90’s I still used these big books that used to be popular. One was called the dictionary. The other was a thesaurus.
I still have my beautiful Oxford American Thesaurus. I’m holding it in my hand now! I also still have the old beat up Websters dictionary that got me through my university years.
It’s not uncommon for me to have difficulty in naming a piece. This is partly because I despise lazy naming. I’ve been composing for over 40 years now. I recognize lazy names when I see them, because I’ve written dozens of them myself. In the early 90’s I decided I wanted the names of my pieces to actually say something about the piece itself (novel idea, hey?).
So I developed a brainstorming system that took descriptive words and explored their meanings and relationships, etc. An important tool in this process were these two, now ancient books, the dictionary and the thesaurus.
I still use this process for naming whenever I have difficulty naming a song or a book or any other of our many products.
The Lotus Eater Title
The title, The Lotus Eater, popped up while using this associative process on this piece.
Lotus eater means, “daydreamer”.
My understanding is that people in the first half of the twentieth century commonly used the term “lotus eater” to describe someone who was full of pipe dreams and fantastical ideas…a daydreamer.
And to be totally honest, this title popped out at me because I have often been accused of being a dreamer with crazy ideas that no one thinks will ever work.
Of course, you can understand the connection between the two meanings, lotus eater and lotus eaters. It’s easy to see how people educated in Greek mythology would call a daydreamer a lotus eater. It’s like saying to someone today, “You must be high to think ideas like yours would ever work.” Ha ha!!!
Not a Lazy Composition – Skill Level
So you see, The Lotus Eater is not one of those lazy titles, which is good because there’s nothing lazy about the composition itself. It is one of our most difficult trumpet ensemble pieces.
The most difficult aspect of The Lotus Eater is the quartal fanfare figures. They really require a lot of dexterity and skill to play properly in the correct tempo. The rest of the piece is not as difficult, but these quartal fanfare figures pop up a few times. The piece is also a long blow if you are not used to this kind of playing.
For that reason, we are putting the skill level for The Lotus Eater at the Trumpet Master level, which is an advanced level.
The highest note in the first part is high C sharp, but it spends a lot of time on the higher side of that range. More difficult than the range is the rhythms, which are mostly based on salsa percussion rhythms.
The piece is written as two quartets duking it out. In a lot of my other large ensemble works, I mix match different “choirs” (as we call it) throughout the composition. But on The Lotus Eater, the first four players remain in the one quartet throughout and the other four players remain in that quartet throughout.
I think this helps with programming a little because you can get a decent effect by spreading the ensemble across the stage to accentuate the two dueling choirs. For that matter, the piece may even work well antiphonally. I don’t know that anyone has ever tried it that way, but it should work, based on the way the piece was built.
You Play First Chair on The Lotus Eater
Fortunately, we do have a YPFC trumpet play-along video for The Lotus Eater. So you can take the piece for a test drive: