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Petrichor (Download)

for solo timpani, crotales, and woodblocks
Level: Advanced
Duration: 5:00
Release Date: 2021
Product ID : TSPCS21-017DL
Price: $16.00
Item #: TSPCS21-017DL

Formats Available:


Description

Petrichor is defined as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” In this piece, Kenyon Williams seeks to contribute something new to the metaphorical “drought” in timpani solo literature: melodic flow and countermelody.

Multiple layers of responsibility are presented to the player. Various timpani techniques are used throughout, including rolls, contrasting stroke types, pedaling, and mallet changes. On top of this, crotales and woodblocks add to the multi-percussion sound palette in unique ways, such as crotales struck on a timpani head while pedaling to different pitches underneath. Eventually, the speed ramps up, introducing a new kind of challenge. This piece is a great addition to well-rounded solo recitals by advanced players!

This solo can also be found in The Blue Book - Volume 3 along with over 40 other solos for snare drum, drum set, mallet keyboard, and timpani.

Use of this product is governed by the license terms outlined here.

Instrumentation

  • 4 timpani
  • 3 crotales (the F, A-flat, and B-flat from the “low” octave crotale set)
  • 2 woodblocks (low/high)

Reviews

In his notes to “Petrichor,” composer Kenyon Williams writes that the piece “seeks to add an element to the repertoire that is often lacking in timpani solos: melodic flow and countermelody.” Admittedly, there are many other instruments in the percussion family that more naturally lend themselves to melodic writing (a disparity illustrated by the timpani’s comparatively meager solo repertoire).

Taking a cue from George Crumb’s “Makrokosmos” and Christopher Deane’s “Mourning Dove Sonnet,” Williams grapples with the inherent limitations of the instrument by incorporating a number of extended techniques and additional percussion items to his textural palette. The result is a five-minute work that is one part impressionist musical portrait and one part technical show-and-tell. The work is listed by its publisher as a multi-percussion solo, but it really should be regarded as a timpani solo that happens to have a few extra percussive elements in the mix.

The piece itself is well-paced and guides listeners through a comfortably familiar narrative of increasing rhythmic activity and tension until a final recapitulatory breath of calm retrospection. I would happily recommend this piece to any advanced high school percussionist or younger undergraduate percussionist seeking a recital vehicle for solo timpani that is a bit more sonically varied, and a notch easier, than the tried-and-true Carter collection.

If I could make one small performance suggestion, I would say that performers might want to consider forgoing the indications for using the backs of their timpani mallets on the crotales, and for using ultra-staccato timpani felt on the woodblocks. For the sake of presenting as well-curated a collection of sounds as possible, I would consider using implements better suited to those instruments, even if it means incorporating four-mallet technique in the performance of some sections of this piece.

The most significant challenge will likely be maintaining a high level of pitch integrity amidst a number of retunings and other pedal manipulations; from a pedagogical standpoint, I would wish for students to learn to play this piece without the advantage of tuning gauges (in which case this work would be an excellent choice for study), but my guess is that most performers will choose the path of least resistance.

—Brian Graiser
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 2, April 2022

Description

Petrichor is defined as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” In this piece, Kenyon Williams seeks to contribute something new to the metaphorical “drought” in timpani solo literature: melodic flow and countermelody.

Multiple layers of responsibility are presented to the player. Various timpani techniques are used throughout, including rolls, contrasting stroke types, pedaling, and mallet changes. On top of this, crotales and woodblocks add to the multi-percussion sound palette in unique ways, such as crotales struck on a timpani head while pedaling to different pitches underneath. Eventually, the speed ramps up, introducing a new kind of challenge. This piece is a great addition to well-rounded solo recitals by advanced players!

This solo can also be found in The Blue Book - Volume 3 along with over 40 other solos for snare drum, drum set, mallet keyboard, and timpani.

Use of this product is governed by the license terms outlined here.

Instrumentation

  • 4 timpani
  • 3 crotales (the F, A-flat, and B-flat from the “low” octave crotale set)
  • 2 woodblocks (low/high)

Reviews

In his notes to “Petrichor,” composer Kenyon Williams writes that the piece “seeks to add an element to the repertoire that is often lacking in timpani solos: melodic flow and countermelody.” Admittedly, there are many other instruments in the percussion family that more naturally lend themselves to melodic writing (a disparity illustrated by the timpani’s comparatively meager solo repertoire).

Taking a cue from George Crumb’s “Makrokosmos” and Christopher Deane’s “Mourning Dove Sonnet,” Williams grapples with the inherent limitations of the instrument by incorporating a number of extended techniques and additional percussion items to his textural palette. The result is a five-minute work that is one part impressionist musical portrait and one part technical show-and-tell. The work is listed by its publisher as a multi-percussion solo, but it really should be regarded as a timpani solo that happens to have a few extra percussive elements in the mix.

The piece itself is well-paced and guides listeners through a comfortably familiar narrative of increasing rhythmic activity and tension until a final recapitulatory breath of calm retrospection. I would happily recommend this piece to any advanced high school percussionist or younger undergraduate percussionist seeking a recital vehicle for solo timpani that is a bit more sonically varied, and a notch easier, than the tried-and-true Carter collection.

If I could make one small performance suggestion, I would say that performers might want to consider forgoing the indications for using the backs of their timpani mallets on the crotales, and for using ultra-staccato timpani felt on the woodblocks. For the sake of presenting as well-curated a collection of sounds as possible, I would consider using implements better suited to those instruments, even if it means incorporating four-mallet technique in the performance of some sections of this piece.

The most significant challenge will likely be maintaining a high level of pitch integrity amidst a number of retunings and other pedal manipulations; from a pedagogical standpoint, I would wish for students to learn to play this piece without the advantage of tuning gauges (in which case this work would be an excellent choice for study), but my guess is that most performers will choose the path of least resistance.

—Brian Graiser
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 2, April 2022


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