Concerto for Percussion

Butler, Martin (2000) Concerto for Percussion. [Composition]

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The concerto was completed in April 2000 to a commission from the Paragon Ensemble with financial assistance from the Scottish Arts Council.
The most striking feature of its scoring is the presence in the ensemble of two extra percussionists. This was an idea prompted by Paragons conductor, David Davies, and which ultimately influenced all-important aspects of the work, since the ensemble percussionists, like the soloist, do far more than merely provide effects and musical punctuation. My conception of them was sometimes as equal partners with the soloist, sometimes acting as ghosts to the soloist (echoing, imitating, foreshadowing), and only relatively rarely taking a genuine back seat.
To this end, the four movements of the work are, broadly speaking, limited in their use of percussion to four different categories of percussion instrument: the first (Fanfares), after a brief introduction featuring shaking instruments (pods, tambourines, maracas etc.), concentrates on tuned wood - in this case three marimbas. The second movement (Toccata I) concentrates on untuned wood (temple blocks, wood blocks, claves, slapsticks etc.) before a brief hint of metal towards the end in the form of cowbells.
The third movement (Nocturne) takes up this cue and concentrates on tuned metal (glockenspiel, vibraphone, crotales etc.); and the fourth (Toccata II) on untuned metal (as far as possible! - more cowbells, cencerros, tin cans etc.) and then, as a joker in the pack, a range of drums.
As their titles imply, each movement has a very different character although their musical materials are closely related. Each finds the percussion soloist in a slightly different relationship to the ensemble (and the ensemble percussionists in particular) - protagonist, ally, confidante, combatant - and each features different technical skills and methods of percussion playing.
solo perc, fl+picc, ob+ca, cl+bcl, asx, hn, tpt, tbn, 2 ensemble perc, pn, 2 vln, vla, vc, db (5 string), audience (opt)

Solo percussion: tambourine, 2 maracasm, marimba (5-octave), 8 temple blocks, 5 wood blocks, 3 cencerros, crotales (chromatic between G6 and A7), vibraphone, tin cans, bongos, timbales.

Ensemble percussion: Cabsa, large seed pod, wooden wind chimes, crash cymbals, marimba, glockenspiel, slapstick, anvil, cowbells (tuned, C4 to D#5 and C4 to C5), triangle, tambourine, tin cans, sleighbells, 2 maracas, BD, claves, log drum, large wood block, 4 tom toms.

Audience: There is an optional role for the audience in the final movement (bb. 183-210 or so). If this part is to be included in a performance, the audience should bring (or have issued to them) any objects that make loud, 'shaking' sounds (e.g. a rattle, a can of dried peas).

Item Type: Composition
Additional Information: 28 mins. soloist 16 instrumentalists. Music score ISBN:- 978-0-19-362243-2
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Depositing User: Martin Butler
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:07
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2012 15:28
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