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Doom Chaser

percussion ensemble
Composer: Raymond Helble
Publisher: Innovative Percussion
Instrumentation: Crotales, Vibraphone, Chimes, Triangle, Tam-tam, Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Tambourine, 4 Tom-toms, High Tubano, 2 Medium Tubanos, 2 Low Tubanos, 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.

"Commissioned by his wife, Carol Helble, for the Lebanon High School Percussion Orchestra, the latest offering from Raymond Helble is part of a trilogy (with “Doom Seeker” and “Doom Catcher” being the other two parts). The score is very clear and easy to read/decipher. The notation is also very easy to interpret, which would work well for a group with varying abilities, perhaps as a high school summer camp-type of piece, due to its short duration (approximately 3½ minutes) and number of players. 

Tonally not based in any key per se, chromatic melodies in octaves between the crotale, vibes, and chimes pervade the texture, which creates an interesting set of colors throughout the ensemble. Five tubano parts (largely written in unison) would have made the piece virtually inaccessible to many ensembles had alternatives not been given in the score.

The timpanist will have marginal pedaling to do on the top drum (half steps) for the first section of the piece, but there are no other technical considerations to mention. There is some intricate ensemble playing and writing throughout, so it will definitely take a mature group to perform the piece well." - Marcus D. Reddick  Percussive Notes, July 2014

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