The Rhythmic Journey series currently consists of three solos for frame drums: Rhythmic Journey No. 1: Conakry to Harare for tar, Rhythmic Journey No. 2: The Cage Sieve for bodhran, and Rhythmic Journey No. 3: Post Minimal for riq. Each was composed for a student’s degree recital at Winthrop University.

 

Bachovich Rhythmic Journey 1 COVER

Rhythmic Journey No. 1, written for Michael Scarboro, is for North African tar with ankle bells (or any foot-operated percussive device; cowbell, jam block, or even a small kick drum). The opening section is inspired by the West African djembe rhythms “Makru” and “Wolosodon,” with a brief excursion through the traditional rudimental snare drum solo “Three Camps” sandwiched between the two. The “journey” continues into the rhythms of the Zimbabwean karimba tune “Chigwaya,” (with its 5+4 division of 9/8) and on to the mbira tune “Kuzanga” (with a division of 3+3+3), thus completing the journey from “Conakry to Harare.” Throughout, the ankle bells provide a polyrhythmic perspective underlying the predominate rhythms in the frame drum.

 

Bachovich Rhythmic Journey 2 COVER

Rhythmic Journey No. 2: The Cage Sieve for bodhran, composed for Chad Boyles in commemoration of Cage’s centennial, explores the rhythms of John Cage’s early percussion works, including First Construction (In Metal), Amores (the pod rattle and tom-tom motives from movement II and the wood block motive from movement III), Second Construction (the “string piano” motive as well as the “fugue” theme), Living Room Music, and Third Construction (especially the tom-toms, teponaxtle, and conch shell motives). The spirit of Cage’s seminal 4’33” even makes a brief appearance in a 10″-15″ silence at measure 42.

The subtitle The Cage Sieve has a double meaning. It is said that the original Irish bodhran was created from a grain sieve; a strainer used to separate the grain from the chaff during the winnowing process following the harvest. I used the bodhran as a “sieve” for musical ideas with one simple rule: if the rhythm could be played on the bodhran, it was considered “musical grain,” and was kept as a motive for further variation and musical exploration in the piece.

Bachovich Rhythmic Journey 3 COVER

Rhythmic Journey No. 3: Post Minimal, written for Will Keith, was inspired by the motoric rhythms of such composers as David Lang, Paul Lansky, Julia Wolfe, and John Luther Adams. I had been interested in writing a work for Egyptian riq that would explore the sounds of these so-called “post-minimalist” composers, but had little success until I heard a performance of Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet by New York-based percussion quartet So Percussion on the Internet. I didn’t analyze Reich’s work or attempt to decipher his rhythms, but immediately got up from my computer and wrote this solo. I’m still not exactly sure what post-minimal music is, but this is what I think it sounds like.

There is a spoken rhythm appearing first at measure 21 and returning several times throughout the piece. This rhythm can be enunciated using whatever sounds the performer chooses (singing, scatting, whistling, or any other creative vocalization). An effective performance will reveal the polyrhythmic qualities of the recurring 5-pulse figure in the zils of the riq against the 7/8-4/4 rhythmic motive in the voice. The pulse of the riq figure turns around on itself in the 4/4 section of the pattern, indicated by parenthetical accents marked in the score. These accents are not to be heard, but are provided to guide the performer in proper rhythmic placement.

 

These are excellent recital pieces for the aspiring frame drummer. The Rhythmic Journey series is published by Bachovich Music Publications, available at www.bachovich.com.

 

One Response to “Rhythmic Journey Series for Frame Drums”

  1. Zirkle April 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Hello Michael, great as always. My ears perked right up when I heard “The Three Camps.” In the middle of a frame drum piece. 🙂