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Waves

for percussion ensemble
Level: Med-Advanced
Duration: 7:00
Personnel: 11 players
Release Date: 2022
Product ID : TSPCE22-005
Price: $45.00
Item #: TSPCE22-005

Formats Available:


Description

John Willmarth took inspiration from the complex nature of the ocean’s waves in writing the namesake piece, Waves. In his words, waves can be “gentle yet powerful, peaceful yet treacherous, [both] beautiful and formidable.”

Although relatively accessible thanks to a groove- and ostinato-based nature, this work provides a number of musical challenges. A quick tempo of 200 bpm is paired with complex time signatures; this most often means 7/8, but it frequently shifts into 10/8, 12/8, and more straightforward meters like 3/4 and 4/4. Harmonically, Willmarth explores a fresh palette of jazzy ideas, including frequent chord extensions, quartal/quintal harmony, chordal planing, and tasteful dissonance.

Individual parts present a fun technical challenge, too! All keyboard players use four mallets throughout, shifting between techniques including block chords, broken arpeggios, and permutations. The drum set writing is reminiscent of a big band tune, and an optional “chart-style” part is included in case the player more naturally understands that genre of music.

In writing this work, Willmarth has created an experience that’s as invigorating to listen to as it is to play. It would be an excellent intermediate-advanced ensemble piece for concerts, contests, or arrangement into a pageantry setting!

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

Instrumentation

  • 4 vibraphones
  • 5 marimbas — (2) 4-octave, (2) low A, (1) 5-octave
  • 4 timpani
  • Drumset (plus wind chimes)
  • Drums (3 small toms, 3 medium toms, 3 large toms)*
  • Cymbals & gongs (2 suspended cymbals)

    *or any drums in a similar size with a rim

Reviews

Originally conceived for steel band, “Waves” is “meant to convey the complex character” of its title: “gentle yet powerful, peaceful yet treacherous; waves can be beautiful and formidable.” Often sounding like the basis of an indoor drumline production, “Waves” is a pleasing combination of minimalism, jazz fusion, progressive rock, and pop music. The erratic character of ocean waves is represented by uneven and changing meters (7/8, 6/8, 4/4, 10/8, etc.), with the opening consisting of a rising and falling motive in 7/8 over quartal and quintal harmony. This grooves along into a slower and more expressive section where the wave-like motion continues mostly in 12/8, with slow-moving chorale-style quintal playing in the harmony. This is followed by a very fast “drummy” section with solos for timpani and drum set, leading back to the mallet-centric 7/8 of the opening section (with some mixed meters thrown in for fun), which moves to a quartal/quintal climax followed by an appealingly soft fade-out. In summary, there is a lot going on in this often densely scored piece!

The individual parts each have their own challenges. The timpani part includes a good amount of pedaling, and the drum set part calls for solid grooves in sometimes rapidly changing meters, as well as improvisation. The publisher provides both a completely notated drum set part and one allowing for more freedom. All of the marimba and vibraphone parts require four mallets, and all are about even in difficulty. With its rather meaty parts, “Waves” is suitable for an advanced ensemble of high school or undergraduate students.

—Joseph Van Hassel
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 4, August 2022

Description

John Willmarth took inspiration from the complex nature of the ocean’s waves in writing the namesake piece, Waves. In his words, waves can be “gentle yet powerful, peaceful yet treacherous, [both] beautiful and formidable.”

Although relatively accessible thanks to a groove- and ostinato-based nature, this work provides a number of musical challenges. A quick tempo of 200 bpm is paired with complex time signatures; this most often means 7/8, but it frequently shifts into 10/8, 12/8, and more straightforward meters like 3/4 and 4/4. Harmonically, Willmarth explores a fresh palette of jazzy ideas, including frequent chord extensions, quartal/quintal harmony, chordal planing, and tasteful dissonance.

Individual parts present a fun technical challenge, too! All keyboard players use four mallets throughout, shifting between techniques including block chords, broken arpeggios, and permutations. The drum set writing is reminiscent of a big band tune, and an optional “chart-style” part is included in case the player more naturally understands that genre of music.

In writing this work, Willmarth has created an experience that’s as invigorating to listen to as it is to play. It would be an excellent intermediate-advanced ensemble piece for concerts, contests, or arrangement into a pageantry setting!

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

Instrumentation

  • 4 vibraphones
  • 5 marimbas — (2) 4-octave, (2) low A, (1) 5-octave
  • 4 timpani
  • Drumset (plus wind chimes)
  • Drums (3 small toms, 3 medium toms, 3 large toms)*
  • Cymbals & gongs (2 suspended cymbals)

    *or any drums in a similar size with a rim

Reviews

Originally conceived for steel band, “Waves” is “meant to convey the complex character” of its title: “gentle yet powerful, peaceful yet treacherous; waves can be beautiful and formidable.” Often sounding like the basis of an indoor drumline production, “Waves” is a pleasing combination of minimalism, jazz fusion, progressive rock, and pop music. The erratic character of ocean waves is represented by uneven and changing meters (7/8, 6/8, 4/4, 10/8, etc.), with the opening consisting of a rising and falling motive in 7/8 over quartal and quintal harmony. This grooves along into a slower and more expressive section where the wave-like motion continues mostly in 12/8, with slow-moving chorale-style quintal playing in the harmony. This is followed by a very fast “drummy” section with solos for timpani and drum set, leading back to the mallet-centric 7/8 of the opening section (with some mixed meters thrown in for fun), which moves to a quartal/quintal climax followed by an appealingly soft fade-out. In summary, there is a lot going on in this often densely scored piece!

The individual parts each have their own challenges. The timpani part includes a good amount of pedaling, and the drum set part calls for solid grooves in sometimes rapidly changing meters, as well as improvisation. The publisher provides both a completely notated drum set part and one allowing for more freedom. All of the marimba and vibraphone parts require four mallets, and all are about even in difficulty. With its rather meaty parts, “Waves” is suitable for an advanced ensemble of high school or undergraduate students.

—Joseph Van Hassel
Percussive Notes
Vol. 60, No. 4, August 2022


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