Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Videotime: The Anvil Chorus

I guess since this thing has my name all over it and even a photo of me trying to look cool I should go ahead a put a video up of myself playing.  Makes sense, right?

One of my very favorite pieces in the solo percussion repertoire is David Lang's The Anvil Chorus.  It's also one of the most popular ones out there and according to the composer possibly the most oft performed piece he as ever written.  It also involves the most ninja-like balance and control in the rep. because of its intricate foot work from pedal to pedal [editor's unsolicited opinion: playing it seated totally eliminates the Ninja Factor©, and where's the fun in that?]

When David stopped in last spring to hear the UT Percussion Group play the so-called laws of nature he commented that even after all these years he doesn't get bored listening to performances of The Anvil Chorus largely because it always sounds radically different from one performer to the next.  Obviously there's lots of reasons for this, but musical execution aside he was referring to it's largely open instrumentation.  Wherever you go a piano sounds pretty much like a piano, and a violin like a violin, but a piece of "non-resonant metal" could be anything from a wok to the hood of a car. 

Hearing him say that about this piece at least made me less squeamish about trying my hands and feet at it after someone like Steve Schick put a pretty indelible, Sony-recorded stamp on it years ago.
Makes me glad I don't play the piano or violin.

It was still pretty fresh when I recorded this almost a year ago, but nonetheless, enjoy!


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere. We've been expecting you.

    Open instrumentation is a great thing. You're thankful you don't play piano or violin, but of course, different combinations/proportions of those kinds of instruments can still keep things fresh. That's why I've started writing large ensemble music for (relatively) open instrumentation, and started a group to play it. It's also nice because you don't have to track down another oboe player if yours quits; rather, you can use any of a number of other instruments, or just shift someone who was doubling another part over to that one. If you're ever in Minneapolis for more than a couple of days, you should play with us. The percussion parts, if they're not for drum set, just specify high, middle and low.

  2. Hey there, friend. I really like the sound of this and would love to get in on the action next time I'm around. I imagine I'll be around in the summer, though not sure when.