Written to depict the process of searching for new subatomic particles (often referred to as “dark matter” or “anti-matter”) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) developed by CERN in Switzerland, Collide is a monstrous piece for percussion orchestra that grabs you from the start and never lets go!
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 17
Level: Difficult | Duration: 7:00
Marimba 1 (5-octave)
Marimba 2 (5-octave)
Marimba 3 (5-octave)
Marimba 4 (5-octave)
Marimba 5 (5-octave)
Marimba 6 (5-octave)
Timpani (2 suspended cymbals)
Percussion 1 (4 concert toms, gong, snare drum, small suspended cymbal, hi-hat, China cymbal)
Percussion 2 (muffled concert bass drum, medium low tom, tam-tam, 20" gong, splash cymbal, medium suspended cymbal, hi-hat)
Percussion 3 (static whip, low tom, bell tree, siren, China cymbal, large suspended cymbal, sizzle cymbal, crash China cymbal)
Percussion 4 (kick bass drum, ribbon crasher, gong, medium suspended cymbal, splash cymbal)
Collide was commissioned by Dr. Brian A West and the Texas Christian University Percussion Orchestra in June of 2015 for performance at the 2015 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in San Antonio. The piece was written to depict the process of searching for new subatomic particles (often referred to as “dark matter” or “anti-matter”) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) developed by CERN in Switzerland. At 17 miles in circumference, the LHC is the largest sub-atomic particle accelerator in the world, and was built to replicate (on a microscopic scale) the conditions of the universe immediately following the Big Bang. At the beginning of the piece, an alarm goes off as the system is turned on and thousands of particles are slowly fed into the machine going opposite directions, represented by the relentlessly repetitive 16th note patterns in the keyboards. Once all of the particles have been added, ultra-high intensity magnetic fields send pulses at regular intervals to accelerate the particles, which is depicted by the repeating half notes in the low octaves of the marimbas. The particles gradually become faster until they reach 99.99% the speed of light and begin to resemble a solid beam as they travel around the 17- mile loop at 11,000 times per second. At this point, the magnetic pulses can no longer increase the velocity of the particles. The added energy shifts to increasing the mass of the particles until they become 25 times heavier than when at rest. This is represented musically by a metric change to a slower and more robust feel of 12/8, as well as a tonal shift to heavier drum sounds with longer melodic lines in the keyboards. Once the particles have reached their top speed and highest density, the two sets are gradually directed towards each other so that the particles crash into one another. This produces the most intense collisions ever created by man, and sends the newly-found particles shooting off in unpredictable directions. The music reflects these collisions with unpredictable rhythmic patterns and metric changes that are highly energetic and powerful. The melodic theme from the beginning returns as the piece comes to a close. However, certain melodic and rhythmic patterns are disjunct and broken this time, as the particles have changed their form. The piece ends with the machine being powered down, as scientists begin to contemplate the origins of the universe.