Bubblegum for percussion ensemble
Publisher: C. Alan Publications (2020)
Composed: 2019
Duration: 3’15”
Difficulty: Medium
Instrumentation (7-8+ players): bells, xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, electric bass (opt.), drumset, tambourine, wind chimes

There is something refreshingly familiar and nostalgic about rock/pop music from the early-1960s. In a time where the music industry looked to take back the mainstream audiences from the first wave of controversial rockabilly musicians (Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, etc.), a record label in Detroit, Michigan called Motown created music by African American artists that could be eagerly received by audiences of all types. Groups such as the Temptations, the Shirelles, the Four Tops, and the Supremes topped the airwaves with simple but catchy hit after hit from the studio with the sign “Hitsville U.S.A.” above the entrance.

Bubblegum is intended to captivate the simplicity in form, chord structure, and groove of those early rock and roll hits released by Motown in a percussion ensemble setting. The A section features the harmonic progression from “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” released by the Four Tops and the contrasting B section uses the chords (adapted slightly) from the bridge section of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” recorded by the Shirelles. Neither song’s melody or bass line is used, but you will hopefully notice a similar character in all elements of this piece relative to the music of the era.

Bubblegum bills itself as an homage to the Motown hits of the early 1960s, and it’s hard not to hear the connection after even just a couple of bars have passed … [it] is exactly what I would want from a middle school piece: fun, educational, flexible, and accessible. – Brian Graiser
Printed by permission of the Percussive Arts Society, inc.