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PE - 3/24/10 - Butler North


Youngstown State University

Percussion Ensemble


Dr. Glenn Schaft - Director

Tetsuya Takeno - Assistant Director

24 March 2010

Butler North




Ionisation (1931)                                                                                                               Edgard Varese (1883-1965)

            Ionization was completed in Paris in 1931 and was one of the first pieces ever written, in Western culture, primarily for percussion instruments. Varase described music as "organized sound" and he perceived musical organization (form) as the "result of a process" similar to the formation of crystals in science. He viewed rhythm as "the generator of form, or as "a succession of alternate and opposite or correlative states." Ionization requires thirteen percussionists who play forty instruments that are grouped to create different musical structures, each with a recognizable texture.

            Sidney Finkelstein wrote about the work: Ionisation "is built on a most sensitive handling and contrast of different kinds of percussive sounds. There are those indefinite in pitch, like the bass drum, snare drum, wood blocks, and cymbals; those of relatively definite musical pitch, such as the piano and chimes; those of continually moving pitch, like the sirens and 'lion's roar.' It is an example of 'spatial construction,' building up to a great complexity of interlocking 'planes' of rhythm and timbre, and then relaxing the tension with the slowing of rhythm, the entrance of the chimes, and the enlargement of the 'silences' between sounds. There are suggestions of the characteristic sounds of modern city life."


Implosion (1982)                                                                                                                 Mantle Hood (1918-2005)

            The basic principles of composition are derived from practices in the island of Bali, Indonesia. The vibraphone plays the principal melody, which is continually elaborated by the interlocking parts of the marimba and two xylophones.



First Construction (in metal) (1939)                                                                                     John Cage (1912-1992)

            First Construction is part of a profound body of percussion chamber works that Cage created from 1939-1943. Interestingly, Cage was profoundly influenced by Varese's Ionization, which he heard in 1933 in Los Angeles, and thereafter occupied himself with developing the single common denominator existing between the components of music, sound and silence, in other words: duration. In 1939, Cage developed a method for organizing duration whereby both the macro and micro structural levels of the piece are related to his "square-root theory," in which components of various relationships within a piece reflect the numeric proportions of the square root. Cage extends this elaborate proportionate writing by his use of polyrhythmic relationships among the individual parts. In First Construction, the rhythmic structure is 4-3-2-3-4- (16x16) with a 9-measure coda (2-3-4), an exposition, (1-1-1-1) followed by development (3-2-3-4) and extension (2-3-4).



Marimba Spiritual (1983-84)                                                                                                    Minoru Miki (b. 1930)

Tetsuya Takeno - soloist


            Marimba Spritual was composed from 1983 to the beginning of 1984, keeping in mind the acute period of starvation and famine in Africa, which was occurring at that time. The piece is composed in an organic fashion, with the first half serving as a static requiem and the second part a lively resurrection, while the title is an expression of the total process. The rhythm patterns for the second part are taken from the festival drumming of the Chichibu area northwest of Tokyo. Marimba Spiritual was premiered by Keiko Abe (soloist) and the Nieuwe Slagwek Groep Amsterdam, in 1984, in Amsterdam.



Normandy Beach – 1944 (1994)                                                                                   David Gillingham (b. 1947)

            On June 6, 1944, at dawn, British and American forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in an elaborate amphibious operation. A total of 425,000 American, British, and German men lost their lives in the ensuing conflict. Normandy Beach - 1944 was composed in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of this important, yet tragic day that changed the course of World War II. The work is cast in three sections. The first is dark and mysterious characterizing the preparation and eve of D-Day. The bowed marimbas allude to distant bugle calls. Gathering momentum, the second section depicts the tragic conflict on D-Day including references to the "Star Spangled Banner" and "America, the Beautiful". All motion ceases and the final section or epilogue suggests the aftermath of this tragic day.

            Normandy Beach was commissioned by James Coviak and the North Farmington Hills High School Percussion Ensemble and was premiered at the 1994 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, 1994. Notes by David Gillingham



Omphallo Centric Lecture (1985)                                                                                          Nigel Westlake (b. 1958)

This marimba quartet was composed in 1985 for the Synergy percussion group of Australia. It makes extensive use of polymeter - that is, several rhythmic time structures occurring simultaneously. That device, coupled with complex but accessible melodic activity and strong rhythmic “grooves”, propel the piece.





Tetsuya Takeno, Kanagawa-Ken, Japan

David Blon, North Huntington, PA           


Kevin Rabold, Pittsburgh, PA                                                           


Joshua Colson, Transfer, PA           

Dan Danch, New Wilmington, PA                                   

Matthew Hayes, Coshocton, OH                                   

Robert Young, Austintown, OH                                   

Eric Zalenski, Bloomingdale, OH                                                           


Dustin May, Westerville, OH                                                                                   

Gary White, Warren, OH


Keith Born, Bethel Park, PA

Dylan Kollat, North Jackson, OH

Kelvin Newell - Warren, OH

Moriah Placer, Warren, OH


Special thanks to Avedis Zildijian, Remo, ProMark. Dynasty, and Black Swamp Percussion for their product and

artist support.

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