the last few days…

This post is a bit late, but I need to make note of the music I was working on at the end of last week. So, Thursday and Friday (May 18-19) I went to Bard College to talk score and do some sample sound recording for the electronic aspects of the piece Matt Sargent is writing for me to play on the gongs I brought home from West Sumatra a few years ago. We recorded about 120 minutes of samples from the gongs themselves, just grabbing tones off each pitch being played by different implements (bows, chopsticks, rubber ball mallets, chains, etc.). We also recorded a few snapshot motives that much of his piece is derived from. We had the chance to talk in depth about the form of the piece, and his inspiration, particularly the process of layering the different voices. We came out of the session having chosen the eight approximate gong pitches. My homework is to find eight distinctly pitched bells, chimes, or other metals with similarly lengthy resonance, that can be struck (the piece is for 8 gongs, and 8 other metals).

Also of note this week, though unrelated to any project I am currently working on… I received a solo percussion score in the mail from composer Alison Nowak. I met her a few weeks ago – she is the aunt of my dear friend Rhea Nowak – and found out that she wrote a piece for solo percussion (1974), for marimba, vibraphone and a set of graduated ‘non’-pitched percussion instruments. It looks like a very challenging piece, but I am very interested in programming in on my next solo recital. 😉

Finally, I have been spending some time with both Rip Tide and Surface Drifts… not logging it here, though, because I have only been doing several 10-15 minutes practice sessions throughout the days. Most of my work continues to be on myself (my posture, my stance, my tension, etc.), while I am playing the piece. HOWEVER, I did set up the cymbals around the marimba for Rip Tide…so now the entire piece is set up. While I am running about 100-130bpm with just the mallet parts, and sometimes the BD, I have been working on simply integrating the eye movement to see the cymbal line notated above the marimba on the sheet music. I do not think it will be a monumental task when I finally start integrating them into my playing of the piece. I do, however, know that choosing the best mallets to work well at the low end of the marimba AND on the cymbals will take some time. I do not want to have to play this with four mallets in order to get the right articulation out of all instruments involved… but, that may be necessary.


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