Getting ready to play

This is the second of three guest posts in a series by Michael Compitello ’11MMA, a member of the Yale Percussion Group

Part I

Getting Ready

Unlike most instrumentalists, percussionists are rarely able to get a new piece of music and immediately begin practicing. Outside of marimba solos, we must usually go through a kind of hunting and gathering, finding the required instruments and mallets and positioning them into a newly constructed altar devoted to this new piece. Only then may we begin to explore. At the same time, a composer’s specificity about which instruments and mallets to use could mean that the same piece could sounds light-years apart in the hands of different percussionists. While some composers are almost stiflingly specific about instruments (“a 12-inch tom-tom tuned to a B-flat that rings for approximately 3 seconds when struck with a 6mm knitting needle” and so on), others are very general, asking for “a tom tom” or “woodblock.” David’s music lies is somewhere in-between these two, asking us to take care with some of the parameters, but to use our intuition with others: in the second movement of the so-called laws, each player needs seven specific pitches of pipe, but in the third movement, any 9 “small and fragile sounding” teacups will work. MORE

Published June 14, 2011
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