Millennial Percussion - A Field Guide to Pebbles

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MILLENNIAL PERCUSSION A Field Guide to Pebbles Directed by Toby Kearney Programming by Nathan England-Jones

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Centrala Unit 4, Minerva Works B5 5RT

Birmingham City University


A Field Guide to Pebbles Millennial Percussion Hsuan Wu Iris van den Bos Nick Cowling Aidan Hammond Tom Bennett Cathryn Lynch Andrew Woolcock Eva Laverty Kai Cooper Daisy Davis Alex Walton Directed by Toby Kearney Programming by Nathan England-Jones Julius Eastman Joy Boy Lynne Plowman Bell Patterns Matthew Shlomowitz Hi Hat and Me Lynne Plowman Pedalling Man Michael Daugherty Used Car Salesman Lynne Plowman Harrison’s Stone Andy Akiho Pillar IV Lynne Plowman Panjangle Karlheinz Stockhausen Näsenflugeltanz Lynne Plowman Logs and Shells Nigel Westlake The Invisible Men

Julius Eastman Joy Boy Written on October 31st 1974 for flexible instrumentation, Joy Boy creates ‘tickertape’ music with each note played with individual flickering rhythm. In the final

seconds, the frazzled energy dissolves into a soothing drone, as the piece’s opening note finds stable companionship with another nearby tone.

Lynne Plowman Bell Patterns A Field Guide to Pebbles (2017) is a collection of five short percussion duos, funded by a research and development grant from the Arts Council of Wales. I worked closely with O Duo to explore different combinations of instruments, and the finished piece was premiered on my

album The Beachcomber. A Field Guide to Pebbles was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 2021. Bell Patterns explores slower gamelan-like textures, using almglocken and crotales alongside a combination of tuned gongs and bowls.

Matthew Shlomowitz Hi hat and Me Writing for solo speaking percussionist with hi-hat, Shlomowitz was attracted to the simplicity and minimal-ness of the set up. He says “Such constraints present a very concrete creative challenge. I’m sure I was also thinking of Tom Johnson’s Failings (a very difficult piece for double bass), for

speaking solo double bass player, which is a long time favourite. I have also always liked the hi-hat although as a childhood drummer I was never very good at briefly opening the hi-hat for the final quaver of the bar, as one does in disco styled beats.”

Lynne Plowman Harrison’s Stone In 2012 Plowman was mentored by Sir Harrison Birtwistle. She says “at my first visit to his home in Wiltshire, he showed me a pebble picked up on Aldeburgh beach. He set it rocking on the surface of a glass table. It moved about erratically, settling into a pattern, then suddenly changed direction

and rhythm at unexpected moments. Since that simple lesson, I’ve introduced much more rhythmic freedom into my music playing with changing pulses and breaking up the regular repeating patterns from my earlier music.”

Michael Daugherty Used Car Salesman Used Car Salesman is a tribute to Daugherty’s father Willis Daugherty (born 1927) who was a dance band drummer and used car salesman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1955–60. In this piece, he creates a musical landscape where he reflects on the world of the 1950s used car

salesman. In addition to the percussion quartet performing on a wide variety of metal instruments from the scrap heap, Daugherty punctuates the rhythmically complex counterpoint with spoken text - I got used cars!

Lynne Plowman Pedalling Man Pedalling Man is written for a set of thirteen almglocken and a marimba playing in the same pitch range and explores the subtle difference between the sounds of

tuned metal and wood. The title of this piece comes from a poem by Russell Hoban, a whimsical poem about a weather vane mounted to the roof of his house.


Andy Akiho Pillar IV Commissioned by a huge group of Kickstarters in 2016, this Pillar was the first in a now complete set of seven. Typical for Akiho’s writing this piece is written for

a small set up with a quartet of players crossing rhythms and blending sounds throughout.

Lynne Plowman Panjangle Panjangle is composed for pots and pans alongside a range of drums played lightly with the fingers and a shekere (a West

African percussion instrument made from a dried gourd with beads or shells woven into a net covering the gourd).

Karlheinz Stockhausen Näsenflugeltanz In Lucifer’s Tanz (1983), Scene 3 of Samstag from Licht, a large wind orchestra is divided into ten groups. The groups are seated vertically on five tiers above one another and represent ten parts of a gigantic human face. A percussionist with ‘shooting gallery’ is the nose. She plays the Wings of the

Nose Dance as a solo accompanied by the orchestra. “Juch huch! Päng! Tsasch! Poi! Wake take prrr! Psch — — psss — — pfff — — !” This version for solo percussion and synthesizers was created by Stockhausen in 1988 for percussionist Andreas Boettger.

Lynne Plowman Logs and Shells This first piece in the set, Logs and Shells, uses log drums and temple blocks with pedal bass drum and congas. Logs and Shells uses a similar instrumentation to Harrison’s Stone - with a

six-note scale of log drum and temple block pitches for one player, and congas, bongos and temple blocks for the second player, tuned to roughly the same pitches.

Nigel Westlake The Invisible Men Produced in France in 1907 by the Pathé Brothers, Les Invisibles is about a wizard and his partner who create a potion that makes them invisible. After they leave, two other men break in and take the mixture and use it to steal clothes and food. They are pursued by the law, but the wizard and

his partner are arrested by mistake. The wizard turns the judge and court officials into giant walking vegetables. The film itself is one of the earliest examples of video trickery, making characters appear and disappear.


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