a technical standpoint, Drum Circle is about the transformation
of range and sound from one group of instruments to another.
The piece begins with mostly unpitched, membranophones (the timpani
is the exception, as it plays a small, five note motive that
is repeated throughout the piece), and then moves on to a substantial
section in which hand drums take over. From these drums, wooden
percussion instruments are introduced (wood block, temple block,
and log drum) from which the xylophone emerges. Once the xylophone
is established, the marimba joins in, and over the course of
the two future movements of the work, vibraphone, crotales, steel
drums, other metal instruments, and eventually a drum set will
gradually take over as the piece develops and grows.
a trip to Grenada, Spain in 1998 and a subsequent trip to Los
Angeles, CA a couple years later, I encountered the not-so-rare
occurence of people getting together with various drums (usually
hand drums) to play together in what is commonly called a 'drum
circle.' A somewhat bohemian affair, I always enjoyed participating
and listening, and was even occasionally amazed at the level
of group chemistry that could occur between several dozen people
all pounding away mercilessly on their drums. The title Drum
Circle is taken from this phenomena, and is most directly
alluded to in the section of the piece that features the bongos,
table, djembe, and conga.
first performed by the Swedish percussion ensemble Kroumata in
September of 2002 in Stockholm, Sweden, and was funded in part
by the city of Charleston, SC Office of Cultural Affairs and
the city of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through
their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts
Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission which
receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.