Parallel


Performed by the Colorado State University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Dr. Eric Hollenbeck


Score available from the composer or at Steve Weiss Music

Instrumentation: Tuned Metal Pipes, Ride Cymbal, Tam-tam, Suspended Cymbal, Sleigh Bells, Found Metal Instrument

Program Notes:

Parallel was born from self-imposed limitations: Metal instruments only, a limited force of those instruments, small fragments of thematic material, and the avoidance of using pitch-based instruments melodically. The goal of these limitations was to create a piece that emphasized atmosphere over all other things. The title and inspiration came from Dear Esther, a video game that creates an experience through exploration and narrative as opposed to skill-driven progress. The theme of parallel lines is key to Dear Esther. Parallel was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Troy University Percussion Ensemble who premiered the work during their showcase concert at the 2012 Percussive Arts Society International Convention.

“I’ve begun my voyage in a paper boat without a bottom; I will fly to the moon in it. I have been folded along a crease in time, a weakness in the sheet of life. Now, you’ve settled on the opposite side of the paper to me; I can see your traces in the ink that soaks through the fibre, the pulped vegetation. When we become waterlogged, and the cage disintegrates, we will intermingle. When this paper aeroplane leaves the cliff edge, and carves parallel vapour trails in the dark, we will come together.” – Quote from Dear Esther by Dan Pinchbeck

Review:

“If your ensemble has played “Threads” by Paul Lansky, you’ll want to purchase this piece by Brian Nozny just to get another chance to pull out all those tuned pipes! He has used the exact pitches required for the Lansky piece in “Parallel” and even gives clear instructions on how to make them if you are new to pipe pieces. Commissioned by, dedicated to, and premiered by T. Adam Blackstock and the Troy University Percussion Ensemble at their PASIC 2012 performance in Austin, this piece is very different from a typical percussion ensemble work. Going more for the concept of “atmosphere” than anything else, Nozny put self-imposed limitations on this piece. He took some inspiration from the video game Dear Esther, where exploration rather than skill development is the main focus. With limited metal sounds and the desire to avoid an obvious melody, he uses layered polyrhythms to create his atmospheres. A fast-rhythm metal theme (whether sixteenths, fivelets, or sixlets) is almost always present and is often played in pairs to nullify the distinct rhythm. The cymbals and tam tam offer subtle statements on top of the theme but they blend in well. There is a middle section with a hocket-like melody between the pipes, but you won’t be singing this patchworked melody afterward. The ending combines both atmospheres already heard and diminuendos down to one of the few notes the quartet actually plays in unison. A great piece for contrast and cool sounds, I’d recommend this one for the middle of a college percussion ensemble program. I’m not sure a high school ensemble (or an audience full of parents) is ready for the delicate nature of the presentation (although they could play it if you found them the pipes!). The main difficulty lies in the counting. You must have an ensemble that isn’t constantly worried about playing fours, fives, and sixes against each other. This piece will require good communication through some body language that will bring confidence to the rehearsal process and instill great chamber music skills in your musicians.” – Julia Gaines – Percussive Notes, May 2013