Curious SurroundingsCurious Surroundings
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Curious Surroundings

for percussion ensemble
Level: Advanced
Duration: 5:20
Personnel: 16
Release Date: 2018
Product ID : TSPCE18-019
Price: $48.00
Item #: TSPCE18-019

Formats Available:


Description

Curious Surroundings was written by Clif Walker as a way to represent the local folklore of the mysterious North Carolina mountains. The piece is comprised of three varying sections, each inspired by infamous ghost stories: I. The Phantom Choir of Roan Mountain, II. The Brown Mountain Lights from Wiseman’s View, and III. The Demon Dog of Valle Crucis. In addition to the 11 performers on the stage, there are also an additional 5 performers surrounding the audience, playing antiphonally. 

Curious Surroundings was commissioned by Dr. Adam Groh and the Western Carolina University Percussion Ensemble.

This piece comes with a full, bound score and includes a CD-ROM containing an audio recording and all individual parts available for printing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (upper octave)

Glockenspiel

Chimes

2 vibraphones

Xylophone

4 marimbas—(1) 4-octave, (2) 4.3-octave (low A), (1) 5-octave (low C)*

Piano

4 timpani

Cymbals & gongs (2 splashes, suspended cymbal, tam-tam)

Drums (snare drum, concert bass drum)

Accessories (mark tree, spoke, glass bowl, finger cymbals, triangle, vibraslap, temple blocks, 10 whistling tubes, slap stick, lion’s roar, 5 shakers, varied small resonant metals)


* A low E marimba can be substituted with minimal alterations.

Reviews

As you can see from the instrumentation list, this piece requires a large number of players, instruments, and space, which works well in a university or professional setting. The piece is composed in three sections, inspired by ghost stories that surround the mountains of North Carolina.

The first movement is moderately paced at quarter note equals 134. The mood for the piece is very ethereal and sparked by an undulating five eighth-note groove providing a ‘’bass line” in the bottom two marimba parts with “counter bass line” in one of the top marimbas. The second movement becomes denser instrumentally, and the offstage percussion plays a much bigger part int he early part of this movement. As the movement progresses, however, the offstage percussion is used much more sparsely and, quite honestly, probably won’t be heard much anyway, as shakers are scored under seven keyboards plus timpani and piano. The second movement is also where many of the sound “effect” (glass bowl on piano strings, raking of the chime tubes, etc.) are included to create an eerie musical effect. These effects are well thought out and provide depth to the composition.

The transition into the third movement is an accelerando of quarter notes into unison sixteenth-note passages in the marimbas and, unfortunately, this is where this piece, in my opinion, diverts from being a percussion ensemble work and turns into a drum corps-style piece where the speed of the notes being played usurps the music that is written. Marimbas play ostinati figures (again, in unision) that add to that feeling. Rhythmic figures on single notes also pervade the marimba/xylophone parts. I think there were many missed musical opportunities here.

A university or college, perhaps, would have a lot of fun playing this composition, with its many twists and turns. There are parts, however, that I believe are way too densely score for percussion ensemble. Being score for so many melodic percussion instruments (4 marimbas, 2 vibes, xylophone, chimes, and glockenspiel), I believe the composer missed many opportunities to create a more melodic composition. That being said, I think this piece is well written overall, and an ensemble with the personnel (and equipment) to pull it off would glean a lot of musical fulfillment by performing it.

—Marcus D. Reddick
Percussive Notes 
Vol. 57, No. 3, July 2019

Description

Curious Surroundings was written by Clif Walker as a way to represent the local folklore of the mysterious North Carolina mountains. The piece is comprised of three varying sections, each inspired by infamous ghost stories: I. The Phantom Choir of Roan Mountain, II. The Brown Mountain Lights from Wiseman’s View, and III. The Demon Dog of Valle Crucis. In addition to the 11 performers on the stage, there are also an additional 5 performers surrounding the audience, playing antiphonally. 

Curious Surroundings was commissioned by Dr. Adam Groh and the Western Carolina University Percussion Ensemble.

This piece comes with a full, bound score and includes a CD-ROM containing an audio recording and all individual parts available for printing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (upper octave)

Glockenspiel

Chimes

2 vibraphones

Xylophone

4 marimbas—(1) 4-octave, (2) 4.3-octave (low A), (1) 5-octave (low C)*

Piano

4 timpani

Cymbals & gongs (2 splashes, suspended cymbal, tam-tam)

Drums (snare drum, concert bass drum)

Accessories (mark tree, spoke, glass bowl, finger cymbals, triangle, vibraslap, temple blocks, 10 whistling tubes, slap stick, lion’s roar, 5 shakers, varied small resonant metals)


* A low E marimba can be substituted with minimal alterations.

Reviews

As you can see from the instrumentation list, this piece requires a large number of players, instruments, and space, which works well in a university or professional setting. The piece is composed in three sections, inspired by ghost stories that surround the mountains of North Carolina.

The first movement is moderately paced at quarter note equals 134. The mood for the piece is very ethereal and sparked by an undulating five eighth-note groove providing a ‘’bass line” in the bottom two marimba parts with “counter bass line” in one of the top marimbas. The second movement becomes denser instrumentally, and the offstage percussion plays a much bigger part int he early part of this movement. As the movement progresses, however, the offstage percussion is used much more sparsely and, quite honestly, probably won’t be heard much anyway, as shakers are scored under seven keyboards plus timpani and piano. The second movement is also where many of the sound “effect” (glass bowl on piano strings, raking of the chime tubes, etc.) are included to create an eerie musical effect. These effects are well thought out and provide depth to the composition.

The transition into the third movement is an accelerando of quarter notes into unison sixteenth-note passages in the marimbas and, unfortunately, this is where this piece, in my opinion, diverts from being a percussion ensemble work and turns into a drum corps-style piece where the speed of the notes being played usurps the music that is written. Marimbas play ostinati figures (again, in unision) that add to that feeling. Rhythmic figures on single notes also pervade the marimba/xylophone parts. I think there were many missed musical opportunities here.

A university or college, perhaps, would have a lot of fun playing this composition, with its many twists and turns. There are parts, however, that I believe are way too densely score for percussion ensemble. Being score for so many melodic percussion instruments (4 marimbas, 2 vibes, xylophone, chimes, and glockenspiel), I believe the composer missed many opportunities to create a more melodic composition. That being said, I think this piece is well written overall, and an ensemble with the personnel (and equipment) to pull it off would glean a lot of musical fulfillment by performing it.

—Marcus D. Reddick
Percussive Notes 
Vol. 57, No. 3, July 2019



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