Commissioned by Brian A. West and the TCU Percussion Orchestra, I Ching is a set of variations for large percussion ensemble based on concepts from the ancient Chinese book of wisdom by the same name.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 12
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 7:30
Vibraphone 2 + Suspended Cymbal
Xylophone + Crotales, Log Drum, Medium Bass Drum
Marimba 1 (4-octave)
Marimba 2 (4.3-octave)
Marimba 3 (4.5-octave)
Marimba 4 (5-octave) + Field Drum
Timpani (5 drums)
Percussion 1 (4 Toms, Low Woodblock, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Wind Chimes, Chimes)
Percussion 2 (4 Toms, 2 Staccato Metals, Slapstick, Anvil, Marching Machine, Splash Tree, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Crash, Sizzle, Wind Chimes)
Percussion 3 (Temple Blocks, 2 Bass Drums, 2 Tam-Tams, 2 Staccato Metals, Triangle, Wind Chimes, Suspended Cymbal)
Commissioned by Brian A. West and the TCU Percussion Orchestra, I Ching (2008) is a set of variations for large percussion ensemble based on concepts from the ancient Chinese book of wisdom by the same name.
The “I Ching” (pronounced Yee Jing), or the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese book of wisdom derived from the polar concepts of Yang (the light or creative) and Yin (the dark or receptive). Yang is represented by a solid line and Yin by a broken line. These lines are then combined into all possible groups of three, creating eight different trigrams (a set of three lines). Each trigram is associated with an image of something that exists between Heaven and Earth.
The trigrams are then stacked onto each other in all possible combinations of two, resulting in 64 Hexagrams (a set of six lines), each representing a degree of change that can happen in our lives. Each degree of change is given a name, an image, an explanation, and a way to confront the change.
The book is often labeled as mysticism, but is actually very far from it. It can be used as a practical way to approach life. Both Taoism and Confucianism, the predominant schools of thought in China, have their roots in its study.
The inspiration for I Ching came from the images of the eight trigrams, which are presented in the following order: Earth, Mountain, Water, Wind, Thunder, Fire, Lake, and Heaven. The resulting piece is a set of variations on a theme, each basically an “impression” of the trigram’s image and meaning.
The connections between the piece and the actual I Ching run much deeper than just the surface images of the trigrams. They not only dictate both the form and the feel of each musical section, but their consecutive connections into hexagrams, and those hexagram’s degrees of change, give the piece its direction and momentum.
A recording can be heard on TCU’s album “Escape Velocity.”