Rule of Three, TheRule of Three, The
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Rule of Three, The

for triple percussion sextet, bass guitar, and piano
Level: Med-Advanced
Duration: 5:00
Personnel: 20 players
State Lists: Florida
Release Date: 2022
Product ID : TSPCE22-014
Price: $55.00
Item #: TSPCE22-014

Formats Available:


Description

In writing The Rule of Three, composer Clif Walker thought big - very big. This epic work is scored for three percussion sextets and a small rhythm section of bass and piano. Each sextet’s instrumentation is centered on a certain instrument family; from left to right (audience perspective), these families consist of drums, woods, and metals.

The piece is intensely rhythmic, with surging 16th note figures by the full ensemble serving as a recurring motif. In between these moments are phrases highlighting the different instrument types, often moving from sextet to sextet in an imitative fashion. The sonic development of the piece is built around the interplay of textures between these main sections of the ensemble. Later in the piece, players pick up accessories that mimic the sounds of opposing sextets - vibraphone players pick up woodblocks, for instance.

Enriched by a colorful, often jazzy harmonic language, this work is a sonic experience that’s hard to come by in percussion music. The interplay between the sextets is reminiscent of the shifting power dynamics of a game like rock, paper, scissors. (In fact, this game is where the concept of the piece originates!) For percussion programs with the personnel and inventory to play it, this work is a true gem of our art form, and would make a breathtaking concert opener or closer!

The Rule of Three ships as a printed, professionally bound score, and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (high octave)

Glockenspiel

Chimes

Xylophone

2 vibraphones

4 marimbas — (2) 4-octave, (2) low A

4 timpani

Drums — bongos, snare drum, congas (2), 4 concert toms, 6 hand drums, 6 large drums, bass drum

Cymbals & gongs — splash cymbal, 5 suspended cymbals, China cymbal, ride cymbal, tam-tam

Accessories — finger cymbals, 2 triangles, vibraslap, 2 claves, shaker, castanets, 2 Zil-bels (high/low), 3 woodblocks (high-low), 4 cowbells (high-low), sandpaper blocks, 2 brake drums (high/low), wind chimes, slapstick, temple blocks

Bass guitar

Piano

Reviews

Admittedly, there is something special about the “rule of three.” For those unfamiliar with this literary device, it focuses very generally on the repetition or emphases of three things. The devices can be seen across poetry, novels, and religious texts, and in many ways are ubiquitous. In “The Rule of Three,” Clif Walker explores the contrapuntal possibilities of three percussion sextets, each focusing on one of three tone colors within the percussion soundscape: drums, woods, and/or metals. Given these parameters, my expectations were an experiment somewhere between drum corps and Ferneyhough. What Walker delivered was something much more reminiscent of a post-minimalist percussion orchestra á la Phillip Glass or John Adams.

In “The Rule of Three,” Walker writes a piece that is as technically and musically accessible as a percussion work for 20 players can be; while it has four marimba parts, they can be played on two 4-octave and two 4.3-octave marimbas; while it uses a truckload of percussion accessories, the most niche instruments are two Zil-Bels and a high octave of crotales.

The rhythms can largely be played by advanced middle-school percussionists, although given the independence required to play within an ensemble of this magnitude, it is probably most appropriate for high school or college ensembles. In short, this piece is a breath of fresh air; it is big and bold, and approachable for a wide variety of music programs with the number of percussionists to play it.

Sometimes, when a work is accessible, it can be difficult to rehearse, as you don’t want to over-rehearse the piece to the point of boredom. However, given the size of the orchestration, there are many layers of musical texture within and across the three sextets, leaving room to refine balance, blend, and articulations in a way that will challenge ensembles at all levels.

While “The Rule of Three” can be gaudy and in your face at moments, it is also subtle and spacious; it is the percussion orchestra piece I didn’t know I was missing, and I am grateful to have come across it. Whoever programs this is sure to have a show-stopping piece that could work great as a concert opener or closer!

—Quintin Mallette
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 1, February 2023

Description

In writing The Rule of Three, composer Clif Walker thought big - very big. This epic work is scored for three percussion sextets and a small rhythm section of bass and piano. Each sextet’s instrumentation is centered on a certain instrument family; from left to right (audience perspective), these families consist of drums, woods, and metals.

The piece is intensely rhythmic, with surging 16th note figures by the full ensemble serving as a recurring motif. In between these moments are phrases highlighting the different instrument types, often moving from sextet to sextet in an imitative fashion. The sonic development of the piece is built around the interplay of textures between these main sections of the ensemble. Later in the piece, players pick up accessories that mimic the sounds of opposing sextets - vibraphone players pick up woodblocks, for instance.

Enriched by a colorful, often jazzy harmonic language, this work is a sonic experience that’s hard to come by in percussion music. The interplay between the sextets is reminiscent of the shifting power dynamics of a game like rock, paper, scissors. (In fact, this game is where the concept of the piece originates!) For percussion programs with the personnel and inventory to play it, this work is a true gem of our art form, and would make a breathtaking concert opener or closer!

The Rule of Three ships as a printed, professionally bound score, and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

Crotales (high octave)

Glockenspiel

Chimes

Xylophone

2 vibraphones

4 marimbas — (2) 4-octave, (2) low A

4 timpani

Drums — bongos, snare drum, congas (2), 4 concert toms, 6 hand drums, 6 large drums, bass drum

Cymbals & gongs — splash cymbal, 5 suspended cymbals, China cymbal, ride cymbal, tam-tam

Accessories — finger cymbals, 2 triangles, vibraslap, 2 claves, shaker, castanets, 2 Zil-bels (high/low), 3 woodblocks (high-low), 4 cowbells (high-low), sandpaper blocks, 2 brake drums (high/low), wind chimes, slapstick, temple blocks

Bass guitar

Piano

Reviews

Admittedly, there is something special about the “rule of three.” For those unfamiliar with this literary device, it focuses very generally on the repetition or emphases of three things. The devices can be seen across poetry, novels, and religious texts, and in many ways are ubiquitous. In “The Rule of Three,” Clif Walker explores the contrapuntal possibilities of three percussion sextets, each focusing on one of three tone colors within the percussion soundscape: drums, woods, and/or metals. Given these parameters, my expectations were an experiment somewhere between drum corps and Ferneyhough. What Walker delivered was something much more reminiscent of a post-minimalist percussion orchestra á la Phillip Glass or John Adams.

In “The Rule of Three,” Walker writes a piece that is as technically and musically accessible as a percussion work for 20 players can be; while it has four marimba parts, they can be played on two 4-octave and two 4.3-octave marimbas; while it uses a truckload of percussion accessories, the most niche instruments are two Zil-Bels and a high octave of crotales.

The rhythms can largely be played by advanced middle-school percussionists, although given the independence required to play within an ensemble of this magnitude, it is probably most appropriate for high school or college ensembles. In short, this piece is a breath of fresh air; it is big and bold, and approachable for a wide variety of music programs with the number of percussionists to play it.

Sometimes, when a work is accessible, it can be difficult to rehearse, as you don’t want to over-rehearse the piece to the point of boredom. However, given the size of the orchestration, there are many layers of musical texture within and across the three sextets, leaving room to refine balance, blend, and articulations in a way that will challenge ensembles at all levels.

While “The Rule of Three” can be gaudy and in your face at moments, it is also subtle and spacious; it is the percussion orchestra piece I didn’t know I was missing, and I am grateful to have come across it. Whoever programs this is sure to have a show-stopping piece that could work great as a concert opener or closer!

—Quintin Mallette
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 1, February 2023


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