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Professor Melanie S.T. Sehman works for solo percussion (Trailer)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
01m:35s | 777 views

Omar I
Dedicated to the Italian vibraphonist Maurizio Ben Omar, this piece exploits the dry and crisp timbre of the vibraphone through a progression of chords and fast outbursts of single notes and dyads. The tonal language, sometimes pentatonic, is hidden by the use of polytonalities (more than one tonality, or key, happening simultaneously) and the addition of intervals traditionally classified as dissonant.

Six Miniatures
Six Miniatures is a set of short, pop-inspired movements written originally for marimbist Katarzyna Mycka. While the melodies and harmonies are extremely simple, the techniques required of the marimbist are more challening. Each movement presents a simple chord progression and form through the window a different texture: melody & accompaniment, polyrhythm, interlocking rhythmic pattern, metered rolls, and chords. The last movement combines textural elements from the first five movements.

According to the Mayan sacred book Popol Vuh, the gods Hurricane and Heart-of-Sky used mud to make the first human being. This man had no soul and his body crumbled, cracked, and ultimately melted with the arrival of the first rain. It was unable to do anything well and was discarded.Then, the gods carved new men out of wood. Hopefully, their creation would "speak [the gods'] name, walk about, multiply and live a purposeful life." But the wood/men (Winik/Te in Quiché, the Mayan language) through better than the previous version still "…had no blood, no sweat, nothing in their minds, and showed no respect for Heart-of-Sky." They maltreated the other animals and misused the land. These imperfect men, with their human-like wooden faces, were banished to the forests by the Hurriance and Heart-of-Sky. The monkeys that now live in the jungles are desendants of the Winik/Te'.
When I look at men, I often wonder if the mindless, soulless Winik'Te were truly sent by the Mayan gods to inhabit the forests. To me, these people seem to be verywhere I go, and when I look at the world I see their imperfect minds, bodies and souls abusing a land that doesn't belong to them. My Winik/Te' is a piece of music where there are always, at least, two elements in constant conflcit - man/music and wood/music. Musical cells and processes that in my mind represent the qualities of these two "protagonists" confront each other in a series of episodes throughout which, like Hurricane and Heart-of-Sky, I try to create a musical experience out of carved wood (the marimba). With any luck, this forest of sound will be inhabited by the music of a soulful, mindful human being.
-Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez

Murda consists of music which was originally composed to accompany the dance of UrbhanaMurda by choreographer Joan Philips. It was created, for the most part, using the "dance first" approach, in which the music is composed to fit pre-existing choreography. Thus the rhythmic structure and overall form reflect the episodic and gestural character of the original choreography, which dealt with the conflcit of traditional and modern issues in a multi-cultural urban society. The term murda refers in general to the narrative use of torso, facial and hand and arm gestures in many Indian dance forms.
The texture is similar to that found in traditional Indian fance concerts, where a solo drum is the principal voice. Classical Indian music structures, where a solo drum is the principal voice. Classical Indian musical structures influence the format, rhythmic and harmonic aspects of the music. The interval relationships of the raga Chandrakauns (tonic, minor third, fourth, minor sixth, major seventh) were used to determine both melodic and harmonic content throughout the piece. Rhythmically, Murda is based on two important and common features of North Indian music: 1) motivic development (palta) and 2) rhythmic cadence formulas (ti hai). These structal devices are used most systematically in the final drum solo section of the piece in which rhythmic, rather than harmonic cadencing is used to create tension and, ultimately, accord.
-Bob Becker