ROUNDS & BELLS (2011)
percussion duo composed for Sean Statser and Frank Tyl, 8'
In the land of unpitched percussion (instruments of indefinite pitch) rhythm, dynamics, timbre, and pitch contour prevail. Here, each player has a collection of five primary instruments, outlining an even, low-to-high pitch contour; the drums occupy the low register, and the wood instruments occupy the high register. Though none of the instruments used in this piece is “pitched,” the entire collection constitutes a wide, graded pitch spectrum—from the deep kick drum to the piercing deskbells—suitable for recognizable themes.
A series of canons for drums, wood, and desk bells, Rounds & Bells begins with the theme stated in perfect unison by the players. First come the rounds, led by alternating players at various distances. This is followed by desk bells, almost like boxing bells or ringing chess clocks, which the players use to strike at each other. Later come further, polyrhythmic canons, in which one player runs circles around the other, tapping out the theme in a different tempo, leading up to a photo finish.
Brian Shank & Nick Taylor perform at the Juilliard School.