33 Tears

for percussion trio
(2011, 2016)

The score and parts of this pieces can be purchased from Sheet Music Plus.
33 Tears, performed by members of Succession Percussion, can be heard at the following link:
33 Tears

This piece began as a simple piano piece in memory of my late wife, Sansan Chien. Because her ‘English’ name, Sansan, sounds like the number 33 in Mandarin Chinese, the piece is based on the number 3 and various multiples of it. So, for example, prominent intervals include thirds, sixths, ninths, twelfths and tritones (which are made of 3 major seconds). Also, notes often appear in groups of 3 (or multiples of 3), create patterns of three beats (or multiples of 3 beats), or use dotted note values (which create groupings of 3). Structurally, phrases include 33 beats and the larger formal sections are based on those phrases. Finally, though tempo flexibility is encouraged, the two notated tempos are 66 and 99 beats per minute (multiples of 33). Not all of these relationships are immediately obvious, but because she loved sudoku, numbers and puzzles in general, I feel that Sansan would have appreciated this puzzle aspect. It therefore seems appropriate if the music isn't too quick to reveal all of its secrets.

This version of 33 Tears, for three percussionists, is a simple ‘orchestration’ for percussion. It was requested by Hsiang-Fu Cheng, a good friend of both Sansan and I who wanted to commemorate Sansan during the Asian Percussion Festival he and his ensemble, Succession Percussion, hosted in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in June of 2016.

(duration ca. 4 minutes)


Player 1
vibraphone and crotales (or glockenspiel)

Player 2

Player 3
marimba (with low C)

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