Thirteen Drums (1985)

Basic Information
Japanese サーティーン・ドラムス
German Thirteen Drums
Opus 066
Year 1985
Category Solo
Duration 13 min.
Instruments perc
Score information
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Description by the Composer

«Percussion music is a field of enormous variety. There is a general awareness today that drumming is a musical activity involving the use of many techniques on many diverse instruments to create tonal colors of exquisite subtlety and sounds of symphonic breadth. In Thirteen Drums I have flown in the face of this awareness by using only thirteen membranophones. I make no use here of gongs, cymbals or any other instruments with long sound envelopes, nor of percussion instruments conventionally used for providing tonal coloration.

«My aim in composing this work was to draw attention again to the dynamic fascination of drums of the membranophone category. I decided on this combination of instruments so as to permit a clear perception of the interaction and development of two musical elements, first, a simple rhythmic series consisting of twelve beats of semiquavers (see the music example below) and, second, an indeterminate rhythm which intrudes on the thirteenth beat.

«This confronts two main challenges, namely the return to the essence of what it means to strike drums and the search for new possibilities for the interaction of determinate and indeterminate rhythms.»

Thirteen Drums score example

First performance: September 1985 / Sogetsu Hall (Tokyo); percussions: Atsushi Sugahara

Maki Ishii