Hand Drum Solos: An Annotated Anthology;
Nine Hand Drum Solos;
Annotated and Edited by Michael Lipsey;
Score and CD of Electronic Portion;
The Anthology includes the following pieces:
Teeth of the Sea by Eric Moe,
Nixkin by David Cossin,
Joining Hands by Arthur V. Kreiger,
Fifteen for Michael by River Guerguerian,
Sweet Creature by Jason Eckardt,
Snaggle "Framer's Intent" by David Rakowski,
Snaggle "Mr. Trampoline Man by David Rakowski,
either/or by Dominic Donato,
Words/Echoes by Mathew Rosenblum
PROGRAM NOTES (NOTES FROM THE COMPOSERS)
Eric Moe: Teeth of the Sea (2003)
This solo piece was written for 2 congas (conga and tumba), but could be performed on any matched large hand drums of differing pitch, provided that the generally aggressive character of the music can be expressed.
“Teeth of the Sea” is a literal translation of “Denti di Mare”, the title given to the Italian release of the movie Jaws. Although there is no reference to the score or narrative of the movie, I did have the breathtaking fierceness of the natural world in mind. The performance indication is “with barely controlled fury”; the work is virtuosic throughout.
I am grateful to Michael Lipsey, whose playing I have long admired, for commissioning the work, and to the Montana Artists Refuge, where I composed it. Additional thanks to Anne Appleby for the loan of her conga drums, and to the rainbow and cutthroat trout of the Missouri, Blackfoot, and Madison rivers, who provided ample inspiration in the form of breathtaking fishy fierceness.
Arthur Kreiger: Joining Hands for Hand Percussion and Electronic Sounds (2001)
Violently explosive and rhythmically aggressive, Joining Hands weds vibrating skins and metals with energy-filled electronic sound. The composition, with its focus on speed and power, is an overtly physical experience for the performer and listener alike. The percussionist must display an acute sense of precision, melding with rising electronic envelopes at one moment and synchronizing with attack points the next. The ensemble contains an exotic collection of drums – darbouka, djembe and bodhran – which is augmented with suspended cymbals, tam-tam and an Alien Disc. All are played by hand.
The electronic portion of Joining Hands was realized at the Cummings Electronic and Digital Sound Studio of Connecticut College where it was completed in December of 2001. The composition was generously funded by a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University. Joining Hands is happily dedicated to Michael Lipsey who gave the world premiere at Connecticut College in February of 2002.
River Guerguerian: Fifteen for Michael (2006)
This piece builds upon a linear idea and its permutations while being underscored by the trance like quality of the Frame Drum.
Jason Eckardt: Sweet Creature (2006)
When presented with the opportunity to compose a work for the bodhrán, naturally, I had to consider its specific attributes. Since the instrument at my disposal was not specifically pitched — only relatively, high to low —, rhythm emerged as a primary concern. For ideas, I decided to return the music of Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-77), whose complex rhythmic polyphony has always been an inspiration. The radical music of Machaut was fiercely criticized by members of the church, not unlike certain recent artworks that have been condemned by today's conservative factions.
So, in technical and political solidarity with my fourteenth-century forebear, I adopted the technique of isorhythm, long rhythmic patterns that are layered upon one another. Using this compositional method, I devised a system of rhythmic organization that underlies the structure of my piece. The title of the work is taken from "douce creature," a turn of phrase that Machaut used in some of his love poems that he later set to music.
While the elegance of Machaut's courtly art may at first seem difficult to reconcile with the rustic assertiveness of an Irish hand drum, I find that this intersection of cultures and eras is appropriately contemporary without disrespecting the heritages from which I have drawn.
David Rakowski: “Mr. Trampoline Man” (2006) and “Framer’s Intent” (2006) from Snaggle
All the pieces in Snaggle are results of a session with Michael Lipsey demonstrating his collection of hand drums; he displayed a dizzying array of techniques making subtle nuances on every instrument. I made copious notes and took movies with my digital camera, and wrote pieces based on combinations Michael just happened to be using when I was filming.
"Mr. Trampoline Man" is a simple five-bar passacaglia with a slow theme in the talking drum over which the tabla plays gradually more complex variations. As the tabla part gets notier, so too does the passacaglia theme, in the end sharing a tutti with the tabla.
“Framer's Intent” was an attempt to utilize the wide array of stopped and open sounds on a frame drum and the different timbres that come from where on the head the drum is hit. In this piece, a simple five-note motive given in 5/8 time is stretched and compressed repeatedly in a kind of developing variation by adding notes and taking notes away until it is barely recognizable. Everything else is just a light.
Dominic Donato: either/or (2004)
either/or is composed of two alternating sections, either "Strictly in Time" which should be precise with a strong implied pulse or "Flexible" which should be much more free. As the piece progresses, the task for the performer becomes more challenging as each section eventually takes on characteristics of the other. It is the responsibility of the performer to keep the either/or of each section perfectly clear.
Mathew Rosenblum: Words/Echoes (2005)
Words/Echoes, commissioned by Michael Lipsey, is an offshoot of an opera I was working on at the time entitled RedDust. It was one of the opera’s main characters, Gertrude Stein, in particular her piece “As A Wife Has A Cow A Love Story,” that inspired the rhythms and sound patterns of this hand drum piece. Hand Drumming and narrative, or storytelling, are strongly linked in many world cultures. This tendency, especially as it relates to the rhythms and patterning of word successions, is obtusely reflected in this Woolf/Stein Retro/Techno Rock out! (See notes for complete Stein text.)