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Compositions

Nothing to Do With A Snapping Turtle

Percussion Sextet | Dificulty: Medium

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Speedway Boulevard: Tucson

Trio: bass clarinet; vibraphone and percussion; marimba and percussion

Speedway Blvd. is the main east-to-west drag in Tucson, Arizona. At both ends, Speedway terminates in the pristine Sonoran Desert, while the middle traverses the heart of the city. In this composition, the ends are in the city and the middle is in the desert. The outer sections are bustling, kinetic, fast-flowing…while the middle section is sparse and sublime. I envisioned this middle section to depict the sun preparing to rise over the Sonoran desert.

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Eh Wa Ba Wa Jo

Marimba solo with optional African percussion accompaniment (includes bell and shaker parts)

This is a contemporary setting of a traditional Nigerian welcoming song, “Welcome to the Dance”, and an example of the Yoruba counterpart to America’s Negro spirituals or Gospel Songs. I perform Eh Wa Ba Wa Jo frequently as a marimba solo, but with the addition of bell, shaker and drums, it takes on more of the spirit of an African drumming/dancing celebration – an invitation to join in the dance celebration of all creation. It’s a rousing opener for many of the performances of my Tool and Drum Ensemble – a real crowd pleaser!

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Marimba, Pan and Tabla

Percussion trio: Low A marimba, steel drum (middle c to c2), and solo tabla (C and C#) or large frame drum.

This is a piece that allows for virtuosic soloing by the drummer. It presents a sedate, almost numbingly slow Barber-like chorale on the part of the marimba and steel drum, while the drums overlay that background with intricate, lightening-speed passages. For the tabla/frame drum soloist, it’s a showcase piece.

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Around the Sahara

Multi-percussion duo: two players performing on multiple percussion setups, using the same setup as Dave Hollinden’s “Surface Tension”

Performing Dave Hollinden’s “Surface Tension” requires a major multiple percussion setup. So, I’ve composed a series of encore pieces written for the “Surface Tension” instruments. “Around the Sahara” is a short, lighthearted romp with a Beladi beat, a Middle Eastern groove that gives each player a chance to show off, both individually and in unison. This piece is all about fun…and I expect you’ll have as much fun playing it as I do!

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My Hunter of Dragonflies

Multi-percussion solo: woods and metallics

This piece, one of my favorites to perform, is based on a haiku by Japan’s greatest female poet, Chiyo-Ni, who lived in the eighteenth century.

My hunter of dragonflies
How far would he have strayed today?

The music is a direct mirror of the text. The first line is playful and grounded, and the second is ethereal and wanting. In performance, this piece almost always causes a hush to fall over the audience.

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Tucson Masala

A “global percussion ensemble” for nine players

This piece was written for my first CD, “Thoughts.” The music is simple, with each player getting to perform a “groove” part when they can embellish as they see fit. The instrumentation is flexible. To me, “Tucson Masala” is a freewheeling romp through an eclectic landscape, a depiction of the style and energy of our unique little city in the Sonoran desert.

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Wall: A Percussion Trio

Multi-percussion trio: instruments include kalimba, glockenspiel, marimba, steel drum and many other percussion instruments

In 1993, I composed this piece in six movements to accompany pre-existing choreography by Sue Shroder of Atlanta’s Several Dancers Core. In it, the musical energy is derived from a metaphorical wall, an obstacle to be explored from many different angles. It provides many musical and technical challenges to the players, as well as an emotional and intellectual challenge.

“…exotic and mystifying.”
The Atlanta Constitution

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Inconsistencies

Percussion Ensemble: 8 players

“Inconsistencies” explores the polymetric aspects of 12/8 as well as a more subtle and spacial environment. Its final section is very high energy and high volume. This piece is appropriate for advanced high school and college level ensembles. Its difficulties lie mainly in “ensemble” playing rather than “part” playing.

Instruments include marimba, vibe, large bass drum, floor tom, tom toms, break drums, metal pipes, cymbals, cow bell, finger cymbals and snare drum. This piece was written for a very good high school percussion ensemble in 1993, the Canyon Del Oro High School in Tucson, Arizona.

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Prelude to Sunrise

Duet: Flute (or Cedar Flute) and Frame Drum

This is a beautiful and contemplative piece that tries to capture the mood of the Sonoran Desert in the moments before the sun peaks up over the mountains. The flute part is light and relaxed as the frame drum plays sounds and rhythms that scurry and stay.

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A Mood

Trio: Piano, Alto Sax or Xylophone, and Percussion

This piece is the result of a very bad mood. It’s a sort of musical temper tantrum, very aggressive, very distorted and very fun to play. The xylo and sax part requires a good player who is not afraid to make some intentionally bad sounds. The piano and percussion parts are to be played with reckless abandon. Some notes and instruments will literally hit the floor. Less than three minutes long, this piece is a great show stopper or encore.

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