Spiderweb Lead is a percussion quartet that brings together steel drum, marimba, vibraphone and a percussion accompaniment that can be played on drums of the performer’s choice such as tablas, bongos and congas, cajon, or any hand drum. In this composition, instruments are treated with nods to their ethnic origins and immersion in contemporary percussion techniques, with a variety of non-traditional beaters used on the steel drum and percussive playing on its rim.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 4
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 8:30
Lead Steel Pan (+ Junk Metal Crash)
Spiderweb Lead is a percussion quartet that assembles an exotic collection of instruments from far-flung locales; in this piece, the steel drum of Trinidad lives alongside the tablas of India and two keyboard percussion instruments of modern classical ensembles: the marimba and vibraphone. In this composition, instruments are treated with nods to their ethnic origins (with a blend of improvisatory and notated music for the tabla) and immersion in contemporary percussion techniques (with a variety of non-traditional beaters used on the steel drum and percussive playing on that instrument’s rim).
Some of this piece’s distinctive sound comes from the contrast of two approaches to harmony. The first is a “hexatonic” scale – a six-tone pattern built from alternating semitones and minor thirds – that frequently produces not only major and minor chords but also other types, such as augmented chords and simultaneous combinations of major and minor. The other sound comes from building easy-to-memorize patterns on the steel drum, which has a special “spiderweb lead” pattern of pitches (hence this piece’s title) connected by fourths and fifths rather than by steps, as they would be on most other instruments. The other guiding force behind this composition, as tends to be with all of my compositions, is a fanatical seeking of instrumental blends, finding meeting points for all combined instruments and trying to make them sound like a beautiful composite. With the use of two unfamiliar instruments – I have never before composed for steel drum or for tabla – this challenge was a particularly exciting one, which led to some unconventional results.
This composition is dedicated with gratitude to its commissioners:
Julie Hill and The University of Tennessee at Martin Percussion Society; Dan Piccolo and The MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at the College of Musical Arts of Bowling Green State University; and Ji Hye Jung and Vanderbilt University.