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Zenith

for percussion ensemble
Level: Advanced
Duration: 5:35
Personnel: 8 players
Release Date: 2016
Product ID : TSPCE16-005
Price: $45.00
Item #: TSPCE16-005



Description

Zenith is an astronomical term that refers to the point in the sky that is directly overhead from a particular point on Earth. Metaphorically, a zenith can be the pinnacle of what can be achieved in any given endeavor. This work by Benjamin Finley may be that very zenith for ambitious ensembles aiming for something both challenging and appealing.

Zenith motives can be found throughout the piece in the form of various ascending scale passages, as well as some of the more rhythmically virtuosic moments featuring rapid meter changes. The composer also calls for “spinners” to be used in each player’s setup. Spinners are comprised of purposed pieces of resonant metal that are set into a spinning motion, producing a stereophonic vibrato effect.

Benjamin Finley’s compositional voice is enthusiastic, hopeful, and ambitious. Zenith embodies these qualities in which both players and audiences will be rewarded.

Zenith ships in a professionally bound folio with a full-color cover, including individual parts on CD-ROM.

Instrumentation

  • Glockenspiel
  • Xylophone
  • 2 vibraphones
  • 3 marimbas—(2) 4-octave, (1) low C
  • Drumset 
  • Drums (bongos, kick drum, congas, 2 small toms, medium tom, medium-low tom, floor tom or concert bass drum, 2 low toms)
  • Cymbals (hi-hat, splash cymbal)
  • Accessories (high and low brake drums, high and low skillets, triangle, 3 woodblocks, 8 graduated metal spinners)

Shared Recordings

Reviews

“Zenith” is an exciting, groove-based piece that is a wonderful addition to the percussion ensemble repertoire. Suitable for advanced college percussion ensembles, this piece will challenge your group’s rhythmic integrity while also developing chamber music skills. 

Firmly rooted in groove, “Zenith” is similar in harmonic and rhythmic language to many of Finley’s other compositions, notably “Evergreen” for solo marimba and “Cold Light” for solo marimba and percussion quartet. These pieces share a melodic and groove sensibility similar to the Pat Metheny Group, and “Zenith” sounds to this reviewer like a percussion version of a classic Metheny Group song. The addition of drumset and a driving ride cymbal help set up the mixed-meter grooves, while the primary melodic material is based on short ascending/descending scalar passages followed by rhythmic “vampin’.” 

Technically, “Zenith” is quite challenging. All keyboard players should be well-versed in four-mallet technique and exceedingly comfortable with quick mixed-meter changes. Finley does an excellent job of “masking” the mixed meter by elongating repeated melodic material. For example, an ascending scale in 7/16 may come back later as a 7/16 bar followed by a 5/16 bar with new material before falling back in the groove. Nevertheless, all players must be con dent keeping up with the shifts so that the sense of pulse and groove is not lost. 

Following the initial section, a brief but powerful percussion interlude takes over, focusing on unison rhythms and cascading rhythmic gures that are passed throughout the ensemble. The piece closes in an almost contemplative way, with the rhythmic energy of the drumset winding down while the keyboards trade of quintuplet figures—reminiscent of works by Blake Tyson. 

—Justin Alexander

Percussive Notes

Vol. 55, No. 2, May 2017

Description

Zenith is an astronomical term that refers to the point in the sky that is directly overhead from a particular point on Earth. Metaphorically, a zenith can be the pinnacle of what can be achieved in any given endeavor. This work by Benjamin Finley may be that very zenith for ambitious ensembles aiming for something both challenging and appealing.

Zenith motives can be found throughout the piece in the form of various ascending scale passages, as well as some of the more rhythmically virtuosic moments featuring rapid meter changes. The composer also calls for “spinners” to be used in each player’s setup. Spinners are comprised of purposed pieces of resonant metal that are set into a spinning motion, producing a stereophonic vibrato effect.

Benjamin Finley’s compositional voice is enthusiastic, hopeful, and ambitious. Zenith embodies these qualities in which both players and audiences will be rewarded.

Zenith ships in a professionally bound folio with a full-color cover, including individual parts on CD-ROM.

Instrumentation

  • Glockenspiel
  • Xylophone
  • 2 vibraphones
  • 3 marimbas—(2) 4-octave, (1) low C
  • Drumset 
  • Drums (bongos, kick drum, congas, 2 small toms, medium tom, medium-low tom, floor tom or concert bass drum, 2 low toms)
  • Cymbals (hi-hat, splash cymbal)
  • Accessories (high and low brake drums, high and low skillets, triangle, 3 woodblocks, 8 graduated metal spinners)

Shared Recordings

Reviews

“Zenith” is an exciting, groove-based piece that is a wonderful addition to the percussion ensemble repertoire. Suitable for advanced college percussion ensembles, this piece will challenge your group’s rhythmic integrity while also developing chamber music skills. 

Firmly rooted in groove, “Zenith” is similar in harmonic and rhythmic language to many of Finley’s other compositions, notably “Evergreen” for solo marimba and “Cold Light” for solo marimba and percussion quartet. These pieces share a melodic and groove sensibility similar to the Pat Metheny Group, and “Zenith” sounds to this reviewer like a percussion version of a classic Metheny Group song. The addition of drumset and a driving ride cymbal help set up the mixed-meter grooves, while the primary melodic material is based on short ascending/descending scalar passages followed by rhythmic “vampin’.” 

Technically, “Zenith” is quite challenging. All keyboard players should be well-versed in four-mallet technique and exceedingly comfortable with quick mixed-meter changes. Finley does an excellent job of “masking” the mixed meter by elongating repeated melodic material. For example, an ascending scale in 7/16 may come back later as a 7/16 bar followed by a 5/16 bar with new material before falling back in the groove. Nevertheless, all players must be con dent keeping up with the shifts so that the sense of pulse and groove is not lost. 

Following the initial section, a brief but powerful percussion interlude takes over, focusing on unison rhythms and cascading rhythmic gures that are passed throughout the ensemble. The piece closes in an almost contemplative way, with the rhythmic energy of the drumset winding down while the keyboards trade of quintuplet figures—reminiscent of works by Blake Tyson. 

—Justin Alexander

Percussive Notes

Vol. 55, No. 2, May 2017



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