Color Studies for Cello and Percussion Quartet

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The Color Studies for Amplified Cello, 3 Percussionists, and Timpani is an exploration of color through music. Both movements explore timbre using precise and unorthodox playing techniques.

The first movement explores Reds. The percussion section creates a rapid and intense timbral counterpoint through specific drum attacks in a relentless texture, similar to the intense flickers of reds and oranges in a flame. This is in dialogue with an analogous texture in the cello. This lets up into a soft section, bowed vibraphone and splash symbol, interspersed with recollections from the tom-toms and percussive cello drumming. A cello cadenza with percussive and standard cello techniques leads into a recapitulation of the initial frenzy.

            The second movement, Blue, is one long transformation from light blue to the deepest, darkest blue, as if descending from the atmosphere into the deepest depths of the ocean. The movement begins with the cellist rubbing the strings, creating a sound like air. A percussionist imperceptibly begins a long crescendo. Temple bowls on the timpani sound like bells followed by rushing air. Crotales and vibraphones follow with similar, though fuller, sounds. This thickening of sounds continues, leading to a climax of a melancholy melody over deafening tam-tam overtones, tremolo mallets, and rubbed timpani. The rest of the movement is a further descent, ending with detuned timpani and cello, sounding like the aching of the ocean itself.

            The movements are tied together by a synthetic scale, derived from the melancholy melody of Blue.