Sticks, Skins, Metal and Stone

Sticks are the most basic tools of the percussionist. They are used for striking but are also shaped and arranged into tonal bars, giving the percussion family rich melodic and harmonic components. Skins are what make drums drums. Metal in it’s varied forms — both tuned and untuned — provides a world of percussion color. And stone — the most basic of materials — struck together or shaped into pitched bars creating the most primordial yet intriguing percussion sounds. These 4 elements are the catalyst for the music contained in this record.

I’ve been fortunate to write for many truly talented and visionary percussion ensembles. This record is a compilation of many of those works, all expertly realized by the NYU percussion ensemble under the direction of Jonathan Haas and Sean Statser. I’m thoroughly grateful for their vision and for the opportunity to hear these varied pieces — ranging from solo and duo to full percussion orchestra — in one place.

Three of the pieces are arrangements of my original works: Hush, arranged by James B Campbell, is an all–acoustic version of my Drumkit Quartet #51, which was originally commissioned and recorded by Sō Percussion; Wild Sound Part 4 is the last part of an evening–length multimedia percussion work commissioned and arranged by Grammy–winning Third Coast Percussion; and Traveling Turtle was arranged by NYU graduate student Adam Kiefer, taking it from gamelan instrumentation (originally commissioned by Gamelan Galak Tika) to large traditional percussion ensemble.  

Two of the pieces, Anomaly and Ping Pong Fumble Thaw, are reimaginings of string quartets that were commissioned by Kronos Quartet and Brooklyn Rider respectively. Both of these compositions grew from sketches written on the drumset, then expanded to string quartet, and finally both heard here for the first time back on percussion.  

Eight of these ten pieces have never been recorded until now. I can’t thank the NYU percussion ensemble and its directors enough for all of their hard work, dedication, and preparation, and for instigating and believing in this project in the first place.  

It’s fascinating for me to hear these works, which were written over a ten–year span, all together. I hope you enjoy the energy, the variety of percussive timbres, and the emotional range of this record.