• Joan Tower
  • Strike Zones (2001)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 2(2pic).
  • Percussion
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Composer Note:

I hesitated to use the title Strike Zones because of its military and baseball connections, but there are no associations with these particular areas, and the title does seem an apt description of the music. It came to mind because most percussion instruments are struck, of course, and in this work I have given each instrument (for instance the vibraphone that opens the piece), or group of related instruments (such as the “family” of cymbals later on), a degree of time and space in order to explore the particular “DNA” or personality of the instruments involved.

In addition to the vibraphone, the instruments appearing in solo prominence are the marimba, glockenspiel, hi-hat, snare, and xylophone; the groups assigned similar prominence are the cymbals, a group of small instruments used softly (temple blocks, small woodblock, maracas), and the drums (used aggressively). Two of the cadenzas on the hi-hat and drums are given a small window of time for Miss Glennie to do her own improvisation on them. In addition to the soloist, two percussionists from the orchestra are positioned in the audience section of the hall, each with four crotales and mounted castanets, one equipped also with a portable glockenspiel, the other with sleigh bells; from their distanced perspective they engage in two sets of trios with Miss Glennie, who remains on stage.

The only percussionist on stage other than the soloist is the orchestra’s timpanist, who has several solos. The role of the orchestra itself in this work, which runs about 20 minutes, is to “amplify,” extend, and surround the various percussion instruments with a similar timbral “zone” of its own.

—Joan Tower

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