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Doom Catcher

percussion ensemble
Composer: Raymond Helble
Publisher: Innovative Percussion
Instrumentation: Bells, Crotales, Vibraphone, Chimes, Suspended Cymbals, Crash Cymbals, Small Gong, Xylophone, Marimba low F, Marimba 4 Octave, Marimba 5 Octave, Concert toms, High Tubano, 2 Medium Tubanos, 2 Low Tubanos, Snare Drum, Timpani, Bass Drum

Program Notes:
Doom Seeker, Doom Chaser, and Doom Catcher is a series of works, any one of which can be performed individually, or all of them as a three movement suite.

The pieces were commissioned by my wife, Carol Helble, for her students while she was president of Missouri PAS. She wanted pieces that were difficult enough to use as technique building tools, but also entertaining and somewhat programmatic to use as musicality teaching tools of a kind she could not find.

Each piece has its own personality. “Seeker” is atmospheric and subtly creepy, emphasizing wood and membranophone sounds. “Chaser” is intense and more aggressive than seeker, and uses a heavier metallic sound presence. “Catcher” is all high drama, requiring the most virtuosity of the three pieces, and unites the different sonorities of the previous movements.

One might imagine the program as follows: in “Seeker” we are lost in a dark wood, or rain forest, sensing some danger, but not yet confronting it. In “Chaser” we either run from or toward a threat, sensing only the doom's terrible outlines. In “Catcher” we confront and battle the terror before us. Only the listener can know whether we win or lose.

Players and audiences enjoy these pieces immensely, and a good performance of any of them always seems to elicit a strong positive response from listeners.  The Doom Series is both reasonably challenging while remaining fun and engaging for all.


Review:
"Looking for something fun and attainable for a large ensemble? This is the final installment in a three-part series, which includes “Doom Seeker” and “Doom Chaser,” that can be performed individually or as a three-movement suite. According to the composer, “One might imagine the program as follows: in ‘Seeker,’ we are lost in a dark wood, or rain forest, sensing some danger, but not yet confronting it. In ‘Chaser,’ we either run from or toward a threat, sensing only the doom’s terrible outlines. In ‘Catcher,’ we confront and battle the terror before us. Only the listener can know whether we win or lose.” Driving and aggressive, “Doom Catcher” provides a dramatic and entertaining conclusion to the series. 

I see many educational benefits to programming this piece. There are equal opportunities for drumming and keyboard playing throughout. The frequent use of unison writing in both areas will help less-experienced players find their way. The keyboard parts are written for two mallets throughout with the hardest elements being octave writing and roll dexterity. The rhythmic and chromatic keyboard writing complements the drum voices well and provides comparable difficulty levels. The tubano parts integrate stick clicks within the drum patterns that create interesting rhythmic combinations.

The piece is written is such a way that the keyboard and drumming parts could be effectively rehearsed independently or in a sectional environment if so desired. This gives the educator a variety of options in teaching approach. Ideal for directors who want to bring together different classes or even different schools to perform together, it would also be very effective for large groups with a short rehearsal window such as a high school allstate or all-region ensemble. Flexibility is a valuable commodity in a composition and will make this a useful find for many directors." - John Willmarth  Percussive Notes, July 2014


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