Standard CandlesStandard Candles
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Standard Candles

for percussion ensemble and optional audio
Level: Easy
Duration: 3:30
Personnel: 6 players
Release Date: 2022
Product ID : TSPCE22-006
Price: $32.00
Item #: TSPCE22-006

Formats Available:


Description

Standard Candles by John Herndon is a programmatic ensemble work inspired by a unique type of star. Cepheid variables are stars that illuminate and dim at a regular, known interval. This means they can be used as a standard candle - a means of calculating distances to and between celestial objects. Herndon writes, “they are a star with a heartbeat.”

The piece follows a ternary form, starting with a slow, mysterious introduction on pitched instruments. Suddenly, the tempo doubles, leading into a driving middle section characterized by tutti rhythms and brief solo moments. All players switch between their original instruments and their own drums. Finally, the piece closes with a recap of the calm opening section.

This work features audio accompaniment for a cinematic feel, but may optionally be performed without the audio following simple tweaks in the score. All parts are written with developing players in mind, featuring quarter/eighth note rhythms throughout, with basic sixteenth note passages for feature moments. Dramatic and well-rounded, this piece is a must-learn for beginner percussion ensembles or methods courses!

Standard Candles ships as a printed, professionally bound score, and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

  • Glockenspiel
  • Chimes
  • Vibraphone
  • 2 marimbas — (1) 4-octave, (1) low A
  • 4 timpani
  • Drums (bongos, 3 concert toms (high, medium, low), snare drum, concert bass drum)

Reviews

While electroacoustic works are often written for advanced players, this piece provides an opportunity for less-experienced musicians to experience this genre without sacrificing quality. The composer writes, “Cepheid variables are stars that illuminate and dim at a regular, known interval. This means they can be used as a standard candle — a means of calculating distances to and between celestial objects. They are a star with a heartbeat.” True to its inspiration, the piece maintains a twinkling and celestial sound throughout.

Each part is scored for a melodic instrument and drum, allowing students to focus on both keyboard and non-pitched percussion. Constructed in an A-B-A form, the opening and closing sections are set at quarter note = 80 and use all melodic instruments with two mallets only. The middle section is set at a double-time tempo (quarter note = 160) and is scored entirely for drums. The demand for each section is the same, with rhythms mostly staying within eighth and quarter notes. There is plenty of “security” woven into the scoring, as rhythms are almost always doubled between two or more instruments. The melodic sections are in F minor, using simple and repetitive figures throughout. The audio playback is easy to follow and provides a constant pulse in each section. Students who are able to play their parts with a metronome will have no problem following along.

The piece has many attractive, audience-friendly qualities and is not diminished by its appropriateness for less-experienced players. The composer offers the possibility of performing it without audio accompaniment, indicating several measures that can be omitted in doing so. However, the piece truly shines when realized with both the electronic and acoustic elements. “Standard Candles” delivers on multiple levels: solid pedagogy, innovative ideas, and quality music.

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 4, August 2022

Description

Standard Candles by John Herndon is a programmatic ensemble work inspired by a unique type of star. Cepheid variables are stars that illuminate and dim at a regular, known interval. This means they can be used as a standard candle - a means of calculating distances to and between celestial objects. Herndon writes, “they are a star with a heartbeat.”

The piece follows a ternary form, starting with a slow, mysterious introduction on pitched instruments. Suddenly, the tempo doubles, leading into a driving middle section characterized by tutti rhythms and brief solo moments. All players switch between their original instruments and their own drums. Finally, the piece closes with a recap of the calm opening section.

This work features audio accompaniment for a cinematic feel, but may optionally be performed without the audio following simple tweaks in the score. All parts are written with developing players in mind, featuring quarter/eighth note rhythms throughout, with basic sixteenth note passages for feature moments. Dramatic and well-rounded, this piece is a must-learn for beginner percussion ensembles or methods courses!

Standard Candles ships as a printed, professionally bound score, and includes individual parts in PDF format for printing or tablet viewing.

Instrumentation

  • Glockenspiel
  • Chimes
  • Vibraphone
  • 2 marimbas — (1) 4-octave, (1) low A
  • 4 timpani
  • Drums (bongos, 3 concert toms (high, medium, low), snare drum, concert bass drum)

Reviews

While electroacoustic works are often written for advanced players, this piece provides an opportunity for less-experienced musicians to experience this genre without sacrificing quality. The composer writes, “Cepheid variables are stars that illuminate and dim at a regular, known interval. This means they can be used as a standard candle — a means of calculating distances to and between celestial objects. They are a star with a heartbeat.” True to its inspiration, the piece maintains a twinkling and celestial sound throughout.

Each part is scored for a melodic instrument and drum, allowing students to focus on both keyboard and non-pitched percussion. Constructed in an A-B-A form, the opening and closing sections are set at quarter note = 80 and use all melodic instruments with two mallets only. The middle section is set at a double-time tempo (quarter note = 160) and is scored entirely for drums. The demand for each section is the same, with rhythms mostly staying within eighth and quarter notes. There is plenty of “security” woven into the scoring, as rhythms are almost always doubled between two or more instruments. The melodic sections are in F minor, using simple and repetitive figures throughout. The audio playback is easy to follow and provides a constant pulse in each section. Students who are able to play their parts with a metronome will have no problem following along.

The piece has many attractive, audience-friendly qualities and is not diminished by its appropriateness for less-experienced players. The composer offers the possibility of performing it without audio accompaniment, indicating several measures that can be omitted in doing so. However, the piece truly shines when realized with both the electronic and acoustic elements. “Standard Candles” delivers on multiple levels: solid pedagogy, innovative ideas, and quality music.

—Jason Baker
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 4, August 2022


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