Adventure on Mt. Hehuan

Instrumentation: Solo bass drum with optional interactive electronics
Duration: 9:00
Premiere: 11/18/2021
TechnoSonics XXI
University of Virginia

Adventure on Mt. Hehuan (Mountain of Joy in Chinese) is named for a mountain in Taiwan, where percussionist I-Jen Fang grew up. It is scored for solo bass drum and optional interactive electronics and is dedicated to Ms. Fang, with whom I long studied percussion. She premiered it in the version with interactive electronics with myself performing the electronics. The interactive electronics draw on a Max patch created by composer/technologist Maxwell Tfirn in consultation with me.

Adventure on Mt. Hehuan speaks to the joy in the journey of timbral exploration and to its role in musical design. The title and compositional design was inspired by the mountain paintings of I-Jen’s father, and by this well-known and massive mountain in Taiwan. There is beauty and struggle in both. I composed the piece after exploring the extended timbral potential of the bass drum, including such details as mallet types and their placement on the drum. The decision to include optional interactive electronics grew from the additional timbral opportunities that these afford, creating a new world of timbral shading, as well as the additional adventure of the duet between the bass drum and electronics performer. Rather than choose between the purely acoustic and electroacoustic options, both of which have powerful individual identities, I decided on both.

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