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Gwyn Pritchard: Earthcrust
percussion ensemble, 2015


This work is for eight percussionists and piano. Composed in 2015, it is a radical reworking of an earlier piece of the same name, written in 1980 for the six players of the Warsaw Percussion Ensemble. In the process of redistributing the material among nine players it was frequently changed, and in some cases new material composed. The piece is so named as its structure, like the surface of the Earth, is made up of superimposed layers. Four musical strata are clearly audible from their first appearance, as each is characterised by a specific, distinct instrumentation which remains mostly unchanged throughout the piece. In order of appearance they are as follows:
     1)  Tom-toms, Bongos, Xylophones and Marimba
     2) Latin-American drums, Gongs and piano (played, on its strings, not the keys)
     3)  Vibraphone, Glockenspiels, and Maracas
     4) Wood blocks, Temple blocks and Cymbals   

By means of an elaborate structure, these four ideas are continually emerging and then disappearing again, giving rise to ever-changing combinations of materials. About halfway through the piece all four layers stop abruptly together like a great geological fault. At this moment a new, fifth idea is revealed, scored for tuned cowbells, and other tuned metal instruments. The overall effect of the piece is not unlike that of a landscape in which sections of rock strata have been eroded away leaving lower layers exposed.

The original version, for six players, was first performed in New York in 1982, the rewritten version for nine players in Hagenthal-le-Bas, France in 2015.

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