Commissioned by the Texas Christian University Percussion Orchestra (Brian A. West, conductor), Babylon is a programmatic work for percussion orchestra inspired by the story of “The Tower of Babel” from the chapter of Genesis of the Bible. Fittingly, this piece is released 25 years after the initial publication of Gillingham's seminal work, "Stained Glass."
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 14
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 8:50
Crotales (2 octaves)[shared]/Xylophone
Marimba 1 (4.3-octave)
Marimba 2 (4.3-octave)
Marimba 3 (4.5-octave)
Marimba 4 (5-octave)
Percussion 1: 5 Tibetan Prayer Bowls, Chimes, Crotales [shared], Suspended Cymbal [shared]
Percussion 2: Rainstick, Suspended Cymbal [shared], Crash Cymbals [shared], 2 Brake Drums [shared], Snare Drum [shared]
Percussion 3: Tam-Tam, Crash Cymbals [shared], 2 Brake Drums [shared], 5 Concert Toms [shared], Bongos, Suspended Cymbal [shared]
Percussion 4: Bass Drum, Wind Chimes, 2 Congas, Hi-Hat, 5 Concert Toms [shared]
Timpani (4 drums)
Babylon was commissioned by the Texas Christian University Percussion Orchestra, Brian West, conductor. The piece is programmatic and is inspired by the story of “The Tower of Babel” from the chapter of Genesis of the Bible:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves;otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
The piece is divided into three sections that follow the story, Land of Shinar, Tower to Heaven, and Confusion of Language, each with its own theme. The Land of Shinar theme is built upon a sequence of chromatic mediant chordal progressions. Tower to Heaven features a rising theme using mostly rising fourth/descending fifth chord progressions. Confusion of Language is a 12-tone row and the section features difference variants of the row (inversion, retrograde, retrograde inversion) and different permutations to emulate the confusion of languages.
The Tower to Heaven theme cycles throughout the whole work. Deviating somewhat from the original story of Babylon, the “tower theme” emerges from the Confusion of Language section as a reminder of the infamous structure built by the people of Shinar before they were scattered throughout the earth. The piece ends as mystically and quietly as it began.