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ExitIX Novum

percussion quintet
Composer: Peter Saleh
Publisher: Innovative Percussion, Inc.
Instrumentation: vibraphone, 4 marimba, xylophone, finger cymbals, bass drum, djembe, wood block, triangles, cymbals, tenor drum, Chinese tom

Program Notes:
ExitIX Novum is a percussion quintet created from a few distinct sources with its genesis being in one of the counter lines composed for an arrangement for percussion ensemble of Dajeong Choi’s “Lift Up My Hands to You”, Another source is the percussion music of Bob Becker, in particular, his invention of the ‘prepared tenor drum’, as an attempt to approximate the aesthetic of tabla for the snare drummer. A primary source of pitch material is the three chameleon-like octatonic scales. The tertian and other chordal relationships of the scale, specifically using traditional voice leading to slide between major and minor triads are explored. Also, the appreciation for and fascination with the rhythmic processes of South Indian music provided a rhythmic ‘hook’ that helped the composer find real creative purpose with the piece. ExitIX Novum received the second place award in the 2007 PAS ‘Medium Percussion Ensemble’ competition contest.

Review:
"“ExitIX Novum” is scored for solo percussionist with percussion quartet. The soloist plays a prepared tenor drum, vibraphone, and a pedal-mounted Chinese tomtom. A bass drum may be substituted for the Chinese tom-tom, which is used mostly for occasional rhythmic punctuations. Originally designed by percussionist Bob Becker, the prepared tenor drum is actually a tightly-tuned snare drum fitted with a foam muffling ring under the batter head and devoid of snares. The prepared tenor drum is intended to imitate a tabla. In addition to Indian percussion, the composer also acknowledges Ragtime xylophone, rudimental drumming, and second-line New Orleans jazz rhythms as inspirations for “ExitIX Novum.” Pitch organization is based on a combination of three octatonic scale structures, which renders an effect similar to tonal modulation. There are frequent meter changes and all parts demand considerable technical skills. The percussion quartet includes a part for xylophone and finger cymbals, a multiple percussion part that includes a jembe, bass drum, woodblock, three suspended cymbals, three triangles, and two marimba parts, each written on a single staff line as Marimba I and Marimba II, respectively. Both marimba parts begin in bass clef, and the first part switches between bass and treble clef later in the piece. The marimba parts could conceivably be played using two mallets, but each would be better facilitated using two mallets in each hand. Although frequently played in rhythmic unison, the two parts also demonstrate considerable rhythmic independence. The four-octave xylophone part includes ossia passages for a three and one-half octave instrument. The xylophone and multiple percussion parts also include a few passages played on an “alto marimba” or “auxiliary marimba.” The jembe is the most prominent indefinitely-pitched ensemble part. “ExitIX Novum” begins with a vibraphone solo consisting of both chords and melody. The soloist is accompanied by marimba, finger cymbals, bass drum, and suspended cymbal. A second, similar accompanied vibraphone solo occurs later in the piece. However, the solo part is dominated by the relentless rhythmic drive of the tenor drum, introduced in measure 23. Sticking patterns are indicated in some passages, and the part includes numerous accented and unaccented single strokes, rebound strokes, and flams. For the first half of the piece the tempo increases incrementally and the ensemble accompaniment is texturally dense. The second vibraphone solo brings a brief repose. As the tenor drum returns there is an effect of acceleration through the rhythmic diminution of rapidly alternating duple, triple, quintuple, and sextuple rhythmic subdivisions. The accompaniment remains sparse, consisting of mostly marimba rolls. The sparseness of this section provides an impressive contrast to the increase in tempo and rhythmic activity in all parts as the piece is propelled to its frantic conclusion." - Daniel Adams Percussive Notes, October 2007

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