When Talujon Percussion Quartet asked me to write a piece for 4 percussionists I immediately thought of the drums. I am a long time fan of drummers and their ability to play simultaneously with both hands and feet, so I thought why not four of them? I went to David Cossin’s studio to try ideas out. When we got to the hi-hat I became mesmerized. It’s an amazing instrument – 2 cymbals crashing together by means of a foot pedal and struck from above. It produces an enormous range of shimmering colors. Just opening and closing the cymbals allow for symphonic possibilities. You can play the cymbals on the edge, play on the bell (top), roll, attack, be delicate, and my favorite - make the hi-hat roar. The first 7 minutes of the piece are entirely on hi-hats. Then I add in cymbals. That’s where the title of the piece comes from – it was printed on the back of one of the ride cymbals. From there the piece spreads out to the drums, eventually leading to a cacophony of conflicting pounding speeds on the whole drum set. Towards of the end of Dark Full Ride the four players are playing beats at different tempos while speeding up and slowing down relative to each other.
my lips from speaking, for 6 pianos, is inspired by the opening few chords played on piano by Aretha Franklin in her hit tune "Think". It is a fantastic musical moment. my lips from speaking takes this bit of music - fragments it, spreads it out, and wildly spins it into a kind of ecstatic frenzy. The title is taken from the biblical line, “Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceit.” - a nod to the deeply spiritual musical background from which the great Aretha Franklin emerged. my lips from speaking, in its original form, written for 6 live pianos, and was commissioned by the Huddersfield Festival for Piano Circus (U.K.). This arrangement for one live player and tape was created for Lisa Moore.
Stronghold was written for Robert Black and premiered by his group The Hartt Bass Ensemble. While working with Robert I discovered that the bass had a limitless universe of expressive possibilities rarely explored. Yes it has those great low notes, but you won’t hear any until halfway through the piece. Stronghold starts with webs of rolling harmonics, very high overtones that take advantage of the long length of the strings, and ends with thick resonant sounds created when the bow is heavily pressed into the low open E string. With 8 basses going at once the ensemble turns into one mega bass, and it’s hard to tell where one player ends and another begins. On this recording Robert Black plays all eight parts.