Stephen Syverud

Tangents (five percussionists)

Audio sample (.mp3)

Score sample (.pdf - Click here to acquire Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Program Notes:

Tangents was written for Terry Applebaum and the Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble. The sound of repeated notes (played by three marimbas, xylophone, and vibraphone at different time relationships - 4:5:6:7) is a characteristic device. The symmetrical set (0134), heard in the opening measures, is expanded by octaves and additional pitches until an entire twelve-note set is revealed before the end of the first section. Serial procedures are used strictly throughout the composition and restricted to pitch elements. The five sections are delineated by another symmetrical set (0167) sounded on chimes and percussive sounds (timpani, bass drum, and tom-tom). The sound is played loud followed by very soft, rolled sounds (triangles, snare drums, timpani, wind chimes, and/or the domes of cymbals). The second section features a repeated/transposed melodic line in the vibraphone. The third section returns to the sounds heard in beginning in regard to instrumentation and the repeated note patterns. However, the pace is increased quickly moving to a rolled vibraphone pitch accompanied by three marimbas and finally resulting in the delineating verticalization. The fourth section begins briefly with short, delicate sounds (one marimba and percussive instruments), developing into a dense texture (pitched/non-pitched, skins/metal/wood), and leading to the climax of the entire composition which culminates in three statements of the delineating verticalization. At the beginning of the last section, the sound of a wavering cymbal is heard. Three marimbas, xylophone, and vibraphone return with the original pitches of the symmetrical set and gradually are reduced until the single pitch "G" is heard. The final soft and continuously-rolled sounds are produced by a single bass drum and tom-tom.

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