Naked and On Fire is an exotic sextet bringing together instruments from many corners of the world, with intricate writing for riq, triangles, gongs, tuned pipes, vibraphone and more. Using the same pitches of pipes called for in Paul Lansky’s “Threads,” this piece was used as an example of music that notation to express techniques of improvised styles in Samuel Z. Solomon’s How To Write for Percussion.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 6
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 6:30
Percussion 1: triangle (high), 3 tuned gongs
Percussion 2: triangle (middle), vibraphone
Percussion 3: triangle (low), 3 singing bowls
Percussion 4: riq, doumbek (with jingles on wrists)
Percussion 5: tuned pipes (may substitute vibraphone), sizzle cymbal
Percussion 6: maracas
Naked And On Fire is a tribute to skilled percussionists, music designed to reflect my thrill at hearing humble objects played with finesse and grace. To all the backup singers who thought they could shake a tambourine or tap a triangle: listen to a real pro and let me know what you think.
The core instruments of this piece, therefore, are some of the most familiar, including three triangles, a tambourine (in this case, the Egyptian riq, which may be the world’s most impressive instrument of its kind), and maracas. The ensemble is then filled out with sustaining instruments such as gongs and other metallophones.
The sections of this piece form patterns inspired by cumulative “countdown” songs like the Passover verse “Who Knows One” or the song “Twelve Days Of Christmas,” in which each subsequent section adds a new phrase before repeating the previous ones. Sections, therefore, become increasingly long, and end with the distinctive phrase that began the piece. Like a Baroque canon, however, accompaniment layers are freely composed, contributing variety and depth of texture to an otherwise predictable format.
Naked And On Fire is dedicated to John W. Parks IV and to the percussion studio of Florida State University, who premiered the work at the 2011 Percussive Arts Society International Conference.