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for solo marimba

A whirligig is a spinning gadget—a top, a dreidel, a carousel. This Whirligig is a virtuoso showpiece for solo marimba. Its music changes constantly—from quasi-mechanical to quiet and expressive, from frenetic to dance-like and funky—as various kinds of rhythmic patterns overlap and intermingle. These patterns occasionally coalesce to suggest a steady pulse, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but like the patterns on a spinning top, they are quickly caught up in the rapidly changing whirl of motion that characterizes the piece as a whole. I also wanted to explore the timbral contrast among the different registers of the marimba. At the very beginning, for example, two lines careen towards each other from the extreme high and low ends of the instrument, collide in the middle, and bounce back again. Other passages explore a single register, or scamper from one extreme to the other. As with most whirligigs, this one celebrates, with gaudy motion, the spirit of playfulness. It runs down eventually, but near the end manages to find a brief second wind. The piece is dedicated to the wonderful percussionist Thomas Kolor.

date: 1998
duration: 7:00
premiere: March 26, 1998, Christ & St. Stephens Church, New York, NY; Friends & Enemies of New Music; Tom Kolor.