the pine mantras
Percussion Quartet; 2008; ca. 10'
the pine mantras
t h e p i n e m a n t r a s
t e h i p e n m n a t r a s
s t e h i p e n m n a t a r
s t e h p i e n m a n t a r
s t e h p e n a i m n t a r
s t e h p e n a m n t a i r
s t e h p e n a m a n t i r
s t e h p e n a m a r n t i
for percussionist S t e p h e n A M a r t i n
Listen to the work:
Download Score (pdf)
Percussion I: Medium Tom, Low Tom, Large Gong, Log Drum
Percussion II: Medium Tom, Low Tom, Medium Chinese Cymbal, Medium Gong, Temple Bowls
Percussion III: Floor Tom, Bass Drum, Sizzle Cymbal, Tam Tam
Percussion IV: Floor Tom, Bass Drum, Nipple Gong, Small Gong
Commissioned by percussion Stephen A. Martin and first performed on November 16th, 2008 in Austin, Texas. Performers included Stephen A. Martin, Thad Anderson, Graeme Francis, and Owen Weaver (recording is of
this premiere performance).
The Pine Mantras was commissioned by percussionist Stephen A. Martin, and finished in Redlands, California in October of 2008. The title is admittedly rather ambiguous— when choosing it, I was less interested in the connotative or poetic aspects of the phrase and much more interested in the fact that The Pine Mantras is an anagram of “Stephen A. Martin”. I have a strange fascination with anagrams.
Steve and I first worked together in the University of Texas New Music Ensemble a few years ago. I have always been a great admirer of his impeccable technique, preparation, and sense of time. In addition to Steve being a great friend and musical ally, there is a sense of steely discipline about his playing that I respect very much.
This idea of discipline, I suppose, worked its way into the piece. There are several processes and formalist ideas that are fleshed out over the course of the work; at the outset, the music is dominated by the high, dry sound of drumsticks being hit together. There is a color change that gradually happens—from sticks to drum heads, finally to all four players hitting the drumheads exclusively. There is also a disciplined process working throughout the slower section. Dominated by an ostinato of various gongs and a log drum solo, the patterning in the gongs is a mensuration canon based on the Fibonacci Sequence (a mensuration canon is kind of musical ‘round’ whereby each subsequent statement of the ‘theme’ occurs ostensibly at a different tempo—not that any of this information Is needed to understand the piece). In this sense, the title does, I suppose, have a real connection to the music and the player. Indeed, a “mantra” compels a kind of obsessive discipline; the formal rigor of the work and the dedication and precision of the semi- eponymous performer may have some common ground after all.
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