Instrumentation: Percussion Quartet for metal instruments
Duration: 14 minutes
Premiered by New York Percussion Quartet, Wolfensohn Hall, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ on October 17, 2001
Commissioned by New York Percussion Quartet
Publisher: Bachovich Music Publications
I. Volume-the amount of space occupied by an object.
II. Gouache-A pictorial technique in which color diluted in water is applied. Lead white is used both for deeper shades and for lightening others, in order to make them more opaque.
III. Impasto-applying a mixture of oil or tempera colors to a support in different thicknesses
IV. Monochrome-Of a single color, including all it’s possible tones
Repoussé, meaning ‘pushed back’, is a French term used in the visual arts for metal hammered into a relief. I feel that our metal instruments are most capable of communicating images literally from the corresponding procedures of the visual arts. This is possible by the instrument’s heightened abilities of color, dynamics, timbre, pitch and most importantly, resonance. Here the natural resonance is also dealt with in the same way that an artist uses space and perspective. There are three kinds of musical space used; natural resonance of the instruments, durations of rhythmic figures, and silence. The form takes on isolated characteristics of texture and color based on these types of space. The first movement “Volume,” sculpts out rhythmic shapes from the beginning and uses contrasting densities through layering and metric modulations. A sense of elasticity is achieved while at the same time maintaining the constant energy of a Brazilian Samba. The second movement “Gouache,” isolates all three kinds of space and the sound characteristics of the instruments causing each element to modify another. All perspectives change at different speeds while the crotales become unpitched and the sleighbells and triangles sound in harmonies. “Impasto”, is the most obvious example of space having a definition and giving shape more then the material does. The resonance of the three players creates a second dimension while the Berimbau solo moves in smooth or brushy textures with sharp or soft edges. Finally, “Monochrome”, uses all kinds of bells, which sound in a quasi moto perpetuo. A single line and the different tones of one color are juxtaposed against a serialized thythmic line of the glockenspiel or almglocken, The other players once again create binary contrasts of translucency or opacity, and high or low saturation against the solo lines. This movement also contains a quote from Messiaen’s Chronochromie, played on the glockenspiel.
Color is never treated as just color. It is an expressive energy of ever-changing intensities waiting to be deployed in new situations. For a visual artist, light transforms color while space gives a musician the same perspective.