Thursday, June 4, 2009

percussion trio, etc.

First, an update on previously mentioned pieces...

I did complete the alto flute duet awhile back (I am calling it Searching for Coincidences), and sent it off to the intended performers, rarescale, who will be premiering it in London on June 27. My London debut!

I finished the rock quartet piece as well. It is titled simply Six Textures for Rock Quartet. I will be going over it with the band leader, Darren Nelsen, this week for finishing touches, mistakes, etc.

Now for the percussion trio...

Like the piece Axe Grinder mentioned previously, this piece uses a Magic Square to create the form. This time, I used a 9x9 square. Again, the squares going horizontally determine the number of measures in a section. There are nine rows, so I divided these into sets of three, which determine the rhythmic pattern, instrument, and dynamic level for each player.

The numbers in each square had a hand in determining what happens. For example, I gave each player 4 instruments. If the number is 1-20, they play instrument A; 21-40 is instrument B, etc. Similarly, numbers 1-20 denote a mezzo-forte dynamic; 21-40 is mezzo-piano, and so on.

The rhythm patterns are in lengths of 3, 4, 5, and 7 beats. If the number of bars was divisible by one of these numbers, that became the rhythm pattern (e.g. a square with the number 39 would have a 3-beat rhythmic pattern and a square with the number 28 would have a 7-beat pattern). Even numbers and prime numbers were given a 4-beat pattern.

With these constraints in place, I wrote 4 very simple patterns and threw them in the appropriate spots. Some instruments are intended more for sustained "atmosphere" so they may not have a rhythm per se, but instead simply re-articulate every 3,4, 5, or 7 beats. With this overall structure set, I plan to go through and refine the surface - basically change things up here and there to add interest.

While I have this rhythmic structure in place, I am not intending for this to be a heavy, driving-rhythm type of piece. It will have rhythms throughout, but the overall dynamic will be soft (mezzo-forte is the loudest, and I gave it to squares with fewer bars). The overall sound-world I am trying to convey here is a forest. Here is the instrument list: Perc. I: ocarina, shaker, box of pebbles, small drum; Perc. II: conch shell, stones, plastic bags, small drum; Perc. III: toy saxophone/kazoo, log drum, frog guiro, small drum.

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