Quintic for percussion quintet
Publisher: C. Alan Publications (2020)
Instrumentation (5 players): chromatically tuned desk bells, vibraphone, marimba, bongos (pair), congas (pair), snare drum, hi-hat, triangle, brake drum
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Quintic, meaning of the fifth degree, is an exploration of the number five within a percussion chamber ensemble. Orchestrated for five players and set in 5/4 or 5/8 throughout, the piece opens with pitched desk bells split among the ensemble, establishing a composite melody that will continue to appear periodically through the work. As each new percussion voice enters, the vibraphone adopts the departing desk bell pitch, eventually reprising this composite melody exclusively in the vibraphone voice at a later point. As the piece shifts to 5/8 time, the vibraphone briefly presents a new harmonic context based on a stack of perfect fifths before the marimba takes over with a more aggressive, dance-like motive, accompanied by brake drum, congas, and bongos. The desk bells and vibraphone enter to add punctuating pitches over this dance and the snare drum thickens the rhythmic texture. Eventually the piece returns to 5/4 and a five-measure melodic phrase in the marimba becomes the last new material introduced. After a return to the original melodic idea reprised in the vibraphone, the work again shifts to 5/8 where a different quintal harmonic arpeggio is voiced in the vibes and a brief nod is given to the earlier dance material with a passage featuring the non-pitched percussion instruments. The remainder of the piece continues to weave between, and occasionally combine, each of the themes presented before returning to the opening composite melody in the desk bells orchestrated between the five players. If played precisely at tempo, the final downbeat lands at exactly 5 minutes and 55 seconds.
Quintic was selected as the winning composition for the 2020 Left Edge Percussion Composition Contest. It was premiered virtually in May 2020 and later premiered live with the composer in residence in October 2020 by Left Edge Percussion at Southern Oregon University.