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Surface and texture is a fun and entertaining percussion ensemble piece that explores new and exciting sounds using found objects as well as traditional percussion instruments. The piece is broken up into 5 major sections that each explore a different surface type or texture:
Each section of the piece is lead by a showcase instrument. These “showcase” instruments usually contain vocabulary of a rudimental nature and are suitable for more marching percussion oriented performers in the ensemble. The resulting effect resembles that of a concerto (solo instrument vs percussion accompaniment).
The wood section features sets of wooden tenors (see picture in “performance notes”) being performed by members of the ensemble most versed in marching tenor drum vocabulary. The section is rich with visceral jungle type sounds and includes mostly wooden sounds (marimbas, woodblocks, wood shakers, claves, hammered wood box, and chains on a wood board)
The glass section features sets of 3 construction grade glass blocks (see picture in “performance notes”). These are designed to be performed by members most versed in marching snare drum. This section is also accompanied by bowed vibraphones, glass bottles tuned to specific pitches, shattering glass samples, glass plates, and other effects used to create glass-type sounds.
The Metal section features 4 graduated brake drums (or a similar metal sound). The brake drum parts contain a lot of “split” vocabulary similar to that of a marching bass drum line. It is recommended that members of the ensemble with excellent timing and/or experience with marching bass drum should perform this part. The section begins with a blazing drum set solo and contains many epic heavy metal “riffs” in the synthesizer part throughout. The metal motif is reinforced by a strong vibraphone/glockenspiel presence as well as marimba/xylo players performing by striking metal plumbing pipes together.
The smooth section is a tongue-in-cheek comic relief answer to the raucous ending of the metal section. Featuring 3 snare drummers (drums mounted to marimbas) using brushes, the performers are encouraged to “ham it up” and show off their skills. Featuring some complex brush work with back-sticking as well as mischievously playing with brushes on the marimbas/xylophone the 3 snare drummers trade solos back and forth. Written in a swanky swing jazz style, the musical accompaniment includes walking bass lines and clean electric guitar sounds in the synthesizer part as well as a silly voiceover saying “smooooooooth”. This section is meant as an opportunity for the performers to loosen up and have fun!
The final section of the piece explores air as a texture, utilizing low monk choir samples as well as flute samples in the synthesizer to introduce this movement. Tuned PVC pipes placed in front of each member of the marimba and xylophone section are struck with rubber paddles as the featured instrument of this section. As the PVC pipes play the melodic material, other members of the ensemble accompany utilizing patio chimes as well as their own breath sounds. The timpani part utilizes a suspended cymbal on the lowest timpano simulating a wind sound. The piece ends with a lone performer on didgeridoo and the rest of the ensemble bellowing “shhhhh” while playing patio chimes.
The piece is great for high school percussion ensembles looking to get out of their comfort zone performing on different found instruments. The piece also offers further training in the “off season” for members of the battery ensemble providing a rudimental outlet in various places. The piece also features performance in many different genres and styles, which offers an eclectic musical experience for the performers as well as a competitive advantage, if the ensemble decides to compete in a winter percussion circuit.
Total Performance Time: 5:16
Tempo Range (in BPM): 86, 100, 120, 144, 180