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Rotating Brains

for percussion quartet and audio
Level: Med-Advanced
Duration: 3:30
Personnel: 4 players
Release Date: 2016
Product ID : TSPCE16-002
Price: $40.00
Item #: TSPCE16-002


Description

Chock full of aggressive polyrhythms, colorful timbres, and a driving, electronic audio accompaniment track, Jason Lord’s Rotating Brains is as unique as it is entertaining. Written for four multipercussionists, each player commands a mallet keyboard and a small drum setup. 

Speakers are to positioned in such a way that no click track should be necessary. Performers will play along to the accompaniment that the audience also hears. When the acoustic sound of the ensemble merges with the audio accompaniment, the experience will be otherworldly and energetic. A surefire crowd pleaser!

Rotating Brains ships in a professionally color printed and bound folio that includes a CD-ROM containing individual parts in PDF format, as well as the audio accompaniment in WAV format.

Instrumentation

  • Crotales (1 octave)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Vibraphone
  • 2 marimbas—low C*
  • Drums (2 sets of bongos, 4 concert toms, floor tom)
  • Ribbon crasher
  • Audio playback system


*With minimal alteration, the two low C parts can be covered by low F instruments.

Reviews

Clocking in at just 3:30, "Rotating Brains" is a highly energetic, fun piece that will push the rhythmic capabilities of intermediate to advanced college percussionists while also exposing them to electro-acoustic performance. Based around the idea of capturing the inner workings of the human brain, “Rotating Brains” makes use of “thoughts rushing by, synapses firing, and epiphanies coming to life within a fraction of a fraction of a second.” In this respect, the piece is highly successful! The rhythmic ideas fly by and are often interrupted by contrasting ideas (fast sixteenth notes interrupted by 4-against-3 polyrhythms) that cycle back and forth repeatedly and quickly. The clever use of repeated melodic material in sixteenth notes versus triplets creates the illusion of a slowing tempo, and will challenge your percussionists to keep their interpretation and groove solid through a section that sounds like it’s slowing down. 

Technically, the most difficult part of “Rotating Brains” is comfort with the rhythmic shifts. The keyboard parts are repetitive and only require two-mallet technique. College percussionists should have no problem learning the notes. The addition of an electronic accompaniment also means that there’s no room to slow down or “regroup” in a performance, heightening the need for advanced preparation. 

My only suggestion would be for the composer to arrange the piece to require one 5-octave marimba. There are only a few spots where both instruments are in the bottom range of the instrument, and if one marimba could be substituted with a 4.3-octave instrument, I think the piece could enjoy many more performances. 

“Rotating Brains” is a delightful, exciting piece that intermediate college percussionists would enjoy working on and putting together. It would make an excellent concert opener or closer on any percussion ensemble concert.

—Justin Alexander

Percussive Notes
Vol. 55, No. 2, May 2017

Description

Chock full of aggressive polyrhythms, colorful timbres, and a driving, electronic audio accompaniment track, Jason Lord’s Rotating Brains is as unique as it is entertaining. Written for four multipercussionists, each player commands a mallet keyboard and a small drum setup. 

Speakers are to positioned in such a way that no click track should be necessary. Performers will play along to the accompaniment that the audience also hears. When the acoustic sound of the ensemble merges with the audio accompaniment, the experience will be otherworldly and energetic. A surefire crowd pleaser!

Rotating Brains ships in a professionally color printed and bound folio that includes a CD-ROM containing individual parts in PDF format, as well as the audio accompaniment in WAV format.

Instrumentation

  • Crotales (1 octave)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Vibraphone
  • 2 marimbas—low C*
  • Drums (2 sets of bongos, 4 concert toms, floor tom)
  • Ribbon crasher
  • Audio playback system


*With minimal alteration, the two low C parts can be covered by low F instruments.

Reviews

Clocking in at just 3:30, "Rotating Brains" is a highly energetic, fun piece that will push the rhythmic capabilities of intermediate to advanced college percussionists while also exposing them to electro-acoustic performance. Based around the idea of capturing the inner workings of the human brain, “Rotating Brains” makes use of “thoughts rushing by, synapses firing, and epiphanies coming to life within a fraction of a fraction of a second.” In this respect, the piece is highly successful! The rhythmic ideas fly by and are often interrupted by contrasting ideas (fast sixteenth notes interrupted by 4-against-3 polyrhythms) that cycle back and forth repeatedly and quickly. The clever use of repeated melodic material in sixteenth notes versus triplets creates the illusion of a slowing tempo, and will challenge your percussionists to keep their interpretation and groove solid through a section that sounds like it’s slowing down. 

Technically, the most difficult part of “Rotating Brains” is comfort with the rhythmic shifts. The keyboard parts are repetitive and only require two-mallet technique. College percussionists should have no problem learning the notes. The addition of an electronic accompaniment also means that there’s no room to slow down or “regroup” in a performance, heightening the need for advanced preparation. 

My only suggestion would be for the composer to arrange the piece to require one 5-octave marimba. There are only a few spots where both instruments are in the bottom range of the instrument, and if one marimba could be substituted with a 4.3-octave instrument, I think the piece could enjoy many more performances. 

“Rotating Brains” is a delightful, exciting piece that intermediate college percussionists would enjoy working on and putting together. It would make an excellent concert opener or closer on any percussion ensemble concert.

—Justin Alexander

Percussive Notes
Vol. 55, No. 2, May 2017



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