Instrumentation: four percussionists
Duration: 8 minutes
Commissioned by: UNC Pembroke Percussion Ensemble, Joseph Van Hassel, director
World Premiere: April 22, 2017. University of North Carolina, Pembroke
UNIFY features four percussionists; two mallet instruments (marimba and vibraphone) and two non-pitched “extended” drum sets. The piece is characterized by the interaction between pitch and noise, represented by these two groups. They begin by exactly mirroring each other, with every note in the melodic instruments corresponding to an instrument played by the non-pitched percussionists. In deep solidarity, the entire ensemble plays fast interlocking patterns inspired by Balinese gamelan. Eventually this absolute unity is disrupted as the two groups fall slightly out of sync, playing in a very close canon with each other. In the next section, the pitch and noise elements separate further as the melodic instruments fall into a repeating pattern, accompanied by an irregular drum beat played in canon. For the remainder of the piece the two sides drift in and out of unison, attempting but failing to regain the unity they had at the beginning, in the end only falling further into their own separate camps. Any similarities to the current socio-political situation in the United States may or may not be coincidental.