Urban Landscape

6 percussionists (2007)

- temple blocks

  1. -woodblocks

  2. -claves

  3. -cowbells

  4. -tambourine

  5. -brake drums

  6. -rice bowls

  7. -bongos

  8. -tom toms

  9. -cymbals

  10. -tam tam

  11. -bass drum

Duration: 7 minutes

Urban Landscape is a work for six percussionists playing a variety of instruments, including a variety of percussion instruments as well as rice bowls and automobile brake drums.  The eclectic mixture of instruments, as well as the kinetic forward motion of the music, informs the ‘Urban Landscape’ of the title.  The piece is in two main parts, separated by a brief interlude, where the performers play cymbals exclusively. The first part of the work is built on several simultaneous rhythmic canons; dialogue between the temple blocks and wood blocks, another between the brake drums and rice bowls, and also one between the two cowbells.  Following the interlude, the fast, second half of the work is also built on several simultaneous rhythmic canons with different pairs of instruments; the woodblocks and rice bowls, the claves, one set of tom toms and the brake drums, and the other set of tom toms and the rice bowls.  Urban Landscape is, in some ways, an homage to the music of some of the earliest composer’s of percussion ensemble music, composers such as Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison and John Cage.  Their brilliant works, in this then-new medium in the 1930’s and 1940’s, have always seemed to me to have set a very imaginative and high standard for percussion ensemble music.