Ensemble Étude No. 1

for 5 performers on 5 drums

Recordings of two different performances of this étude can be heard at the following links:
Ensemble Étude No. 1 (moderate tempo)
Ensemble Étude No. 1 (faster tempo)

Although throughout this étude each performer plays only one drum in a way that’s similar to certain Chinese or Japanese drumming ensembles, my intent is not to copy those styles. In terms of rhythm and ensemble interaction, two primary methods are used. The first is to assign each player a fixed number of beats (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) and to have them play simple rhythms based on those beats. The ensemble then creates complex rhythms and dialogues as those beat patterns interact. The second method allows players to abandon their assigned number of beats. Instead, they collectively explore various note groupings and rhythmic ‘grooves’ within the context of constantly pulsing eighth-notes, sometimes even producing a swing effect. Although general tone guidelines and accents are written on the score, performers are free to select the types of drums and mallets, sticks, or even hand techniques they wish to use.

(duration ca. 4:00)

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