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Murmur Points : for 6 percussionists and 1 drummer

by Taran Carter (2005)

Work Overview

Murmur Points is based around the concept of a unison line occurring simultaneously, over different instruments, but in different time-scales. It explores the perception of relative time in parallel events. For example the woodblock parts in Murmur Points often play the same line as each other but with each part lightly slower or faster than the others. Using this device the piece becomes full of simultaneous metric modulations and melodic lines played linearly (and also harmonically) at once. Events happen concurrently, but in their own time, yet with an emphasis on points of connection and coherence within the ensemble. Perhaps, an extension of Steve Reich's tape experiments this effect highlights unexpected parts of the rhythmic writing and aims to creates a mesmerising texture.

This mesmerising texture is exploited in the works opening section. It begins in a spacious, murmuring, meditative way, with woodblocks cascading together and snippets of melodies emerging from the tuned percussion. Several minutes into Murmur Points a baby's fast heart-beat is heard on the drum set, pre-empting the change into a children's lullaby. This too is played in two different time-ratios simultaneously giving it an echo-like, dizzy feel.

The lullaby hangs around for a while, slowly beginning to hint at returning to the opening sound-world but, in a brief reference to Aldous Huxley's style of narrative climax, ends with a teasing glimpse at a new section.

Work Details

Year: 2005

Instrumentation: Percussion (6 players: 1: glockenspiel, suspended cymbal, very small woodblock ; 2: crotales(2 8ves), sand-paper blocks, metal wind chimes, small woodblock ; 3: vibraphone, thundersheet, medium-sized woodblock ; 4: triangle, guiro, sleigh bells, bass drum, big woodblock ; 5: chimes, brake drum, tam tam, very big woodblock ; 6: marimba, suspended cymbal, temple blocks), drum set.

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Composed for Speak Percussion, ensemblebash and David Jones for the 2005 Melbourne International Arts Festival

First performance: by Speak Percussion, ensemblebash, David Jones — 2005. Melbourne International Arts Festival, Federation Square

Performances of this work

2005: Melbourne International Arts Festival, Federation Square. Featuring Speak Percussion, ensemblebash, David Jones.

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