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Tears for 4 Concert Toms (by Timothy Adams Jr.)

Price: $6.00

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This work for four concert toms will challenge a percussionist's rhythmic accuracy and expressive capabilities. Set at an extremely slow tempo (quarter note equals 54), motivic material emerges through shifting meters and alternations between both fast and spacious rhythmic subdivisions. Two pages in length, this work consists of three sections, each delineated by the use of different striking implements (timpani mallets, broomsticks and fingers). While the indication for "brooksticks" is not capitalized, I'm assuming the reference is to the Pro-Mark product made with actual broomcorn. This implement produces a sound somewhere between brushes and stick bundles.
The majority of the piece appears to fit idiomatically with the four drums positions from low to high (left to right) in front of the performer. A curious notation is the use of staccato and legato markings in a three-measure phrase at the bottom of the first page. No further indication is given as to how the perfromer should approach these differences in sound (the use of dead-strokes for staccato, etc.). Also, drum tuning and instrument types (double-headed toms vs. single-headed, etc.) are not indicated. Refreshingly, much is left up to the imagination!
The more I study this piece, the more fascinated I become with it. It is engimatic in that this lyrical, sorrowful music (as can be deduced from the title) must be expressed through rather unconventional instrumentation. Clearly, the performer must internalize the music to the point where he or she is capable of making four tom-toms sing in a manner in which the emotional content of the music is unquestionable to the listener. This, combined with the lack of explanations from the composer, leaves me with more questions than answers. I will attempt to answer these for myself, as this piece now assumes its place on my practic room music stand.
Jason Baker, Percussive Notes -- November 2011

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