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Quartet

for percussion
Level: Med-Advanced
Duration: 2:30
Personnel: 4 players
Release Date: 2020
Product ID : TSPCE20-022
Price: $32.00
Item #: TSPCE20-022

Formats Available:


Description

Andrew Smit’s Quartet for percussion was written in January of 2020 as a compositional exploration of expand upon one simple, repetitive idea. Smit drew his inspiration from Steve Reich, the father of minimalist percussion music, specifically his piece Music for 18 Musicians. 

Smit used Reich’s technique of adding one note at a time to a melody as well as a limited range for the melody. Another element at work in the piece is Smit’s use of polyrhythms, which he explores brilliantly by having certain parts feel as though they’re written in 3/4 time and others as though they’re written in 4/4. The result is a meditative and rhythmically complex fabric, tightly woven with relentless groove. 

This piece comes as a professionally printed and bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or for tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

4 crotales (A, E, A, E)*

• 2 glockenspiels

2 xylophone

• 3 concert toms

Accessories (triangle, tambourine, 6 temple blocks)

*A & E from both octaves.

Reviews

In his program notes to “Quartet,” Andrew Smit identifies the music of Steve Reich as being a primary source of inspiration for the work, and it won’t take long for listeners to make that connection for themselves. Most, but not all, of the piece is an exploration of the additive techniques Reich pioneered in works like “Music for 18 Musicians” and “Drumming,” although other elements (such as phasing) are absent. The piece is essentially a keyboard quartet for the first half, although the instrumentation of two glockenspiels and two xylophones deviates a little from what one might otherwise expect, and then it becomes a mixed ensemble for the second half, with the addition of toms, temple blocks, and more. Even then, thanks to Smit’s Varèse-ian melodic treatment of the temple blocks, the minimalist harmonic texture loses very little when the switch happens. 

The demand on the performers is high; although the parts themselves are not overly demanding in a physical sense, concepts such as polyrhythmic integrity, consistent subdivision, and careful listening will be the order of the day for all players. For concert attendees, the piece is going to serve as something of a between-course sorbet; the piece is not even three minutes long, but before it winks out of existence, it presents a satisfying and pleasant rhythmic vignette that could prepare the aural palate for the heavier entrée to follow. 

The thing to appreciate about this work is how contained it is. By limiting the instrumentation and timbral landscape to dry woods and high metals (with the exception of the toms, used sparingly and therefore effectively), the composer is able to paint exactly the picture he wants, without adding unneeded dross. 

The only thing that confuses me about the piece is why it is so incredibly short; one of the hallmarks of this kind of minimalist, process-driven piece is the time it takes to unfold and crystallize, but after two minutes and change, I feel like the piece has only begun to reveal itself before, without warning, it suddenly ends. The composer should take this as a compliment, though; in under three minutes, he builds up a musical engine that I found engaging and colorful, and I wish it could keep going.

This would be an excellent project for an advanced high school or college ensemble looking to explore the world of minimalism, without the girth that often accompanies it. 

—Brian Graiser
Percussive Notes
Vol. 59, No. 1, February 2021

Description

Andrew Smit’s Quartet for percussion was written in January of 2020 as a compositional exploration of expand upon one simple, repetitive idea. Smit drew his inspiration from Steve Reich, the father of minimalist percussion music, specifically his piece Music for 18 Musicians. 

Smit used Reich’s technique of adding one note at a time to a melody as well as a limited range for the melody. Another element at work in the piece is Smit’s use of polyrhythms, which he explores brilliantly by having certain parts feel as though they’re written in 3/4 time and others as though they’re written in 4/4. The result is a meditative and rhythmically complex fabric, tightly woven with relentless groove. 

This piece comes as a professionally printed and bound score and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or for tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

4 crotales (A, E, A, E)*

• 2 glockenspiels

2 xylophone

• 3 concert toms

Accessories (triangle, tambourine, 6 temple blocks)

*A & E from both octaves.

Reviews

In his program notes to “Quartet,” Andrew Smit identifies the music of Steve Reich as being a primary source of inspiration for the work, and it won’t take long for listeners to make that connection for themselves. Most, but not all, of the piece is an exploration of the additive techniques Reich pioneered in works like “Music for 18 Musicians” and “Drumming,” although other elements (such as phasing) are absent. The piece is essentially a keyboard quartet for the first half, although the instrumentation of two glockenspiels and two xylophones deviates a little from what one might otherwise expect, and then it becomes a mixed ensemble for the second half, with the addition of toms, temple blocks, and more. Even then, thanks to Smit’s Varèse-ian melodic treatment of the temple blocks, the minimalist harmonic texture loses very little when the switch happens. 

The demand on the performers is high; although the parts themselves are not overly demanding in a physical sense, concepts such as polyrhythmic integrity, consistent subdivision, and careful listening will be the order of the day for all players. For concert attendees, the piece is going to serve as something of a between-course sorbet; the piece is not even three minutes long, but before it winks out of existence, it presents a satisfying and pleasant rhythmic vignette that could prepare the aural palate for the heavier entrée to follow. 

The thing to appreciate about this work is how contained it is. By limiting the instrumentation and timbral landscape to dry woods and high metals (with the exception of the toms, used sparingly and therefore effectively), the composer is able to paint exactly the picture he wants, without adding unneeded dross. 

The only thing that confuses me about the piece is why it is so incredibly short; one of the hallmarks of this kind of minimalist, process-driven piece is the time it takes to unfold and crystallize, but after two minutes and change, I feel like the piece has only begun to reveal itself before, without warning, it suddenly ends. The composer should take this as a compliment, though; in under three minutes, he builds up a musical engine that I found engaging and colorful, and I wish it could keep going.

This would be an excellent project for an advanced high school or college ensemble looking to explore the world of minimalism, without the girth that often accompanies it. 

—Brian Graiser
Percussive Notes
Vol. 59, No. 1, February 2021



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