So We Go Forward is a driving work for 9 percussionists that was inspired by a quote from Chukwuemeka (“Emeka”) Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of the most important figures in the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War in the late 1960s. Describing his soldiers' position on the front lines, he said "If we go forward, we die. If we go backward, we die. So we go forward."
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 9
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 9:00
Player 1: Xylophone, Marimba [shared w/ P3], Shekere, Bullroarer
Player 2: Marimba (4-octave), Bullroarer
Player 3: Marimba (5-octave) [shared w/ P1], Shaker, Bullroarer
Player 4: 5 Timpani, Suspended Cymbal, Brush Swish
Player 5: Bongos, Shell Rattle, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-Tam
Player 6: 3 Congas, Lion's Roar
Player 7: 3 Toms, Brush Swish, Bird Flappers, Shaker
Player 8: Impact Drum, Sleigh Bells, Suspended Cymbal, Cowbells, Sandpaper Blocks
Player 9: Concert Bass Drum, China Cymbal, Log Drum (2 pitches)
Chukwuemeka (“Emeka”) Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of the most important figures in the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War in the late 1960s. He was instrumental in creating the Biafran state independent from Nigeria, and in the ensuing war that followed as Nigeria tried to regain control of the region. In an interview, Ojukwu described his soldier’s perilous position on the front: “They pound a position with artillery for 24 hours, then they send forward one armored car. If anybody shoots at it, it retreats, and another 24 hours of bombardment begins. When the infantry moves forward, they drive a screen of refugees before them. If we go forward, we die. If we go backward, we die. So we go forward.” I love the profundity of this final statement and was inspired to create a piece with the same level of determination and forward momentum.
There are instruments asked for in this piece that may not be on hand in a typical percussion storeroom, specifically bullroarers and bird flappers. Luckily, bullroarers are fairly easy to make (or purchase), and bird flappers can be fully-designed pieces or as straightforward as two telephone books vigorously shaken while being held by the binding. Whatever method chosen should sound like a flock of birds all taking flight at the same time.
Players 4 & 7 are asked to play the “brush swish”, which should be performed by the player swiping a wire brush across the face of a music stand.