For: Percussion ensemble
page one of Tick

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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
6 minutes
World music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Tick This piece was a creation of contemplation after completing all other pieces, and was a conscious decision to use more rhythmical persuasion and complex time signature playing.

With this in mind, I set about creating a score with many time changes, to make me consider pulses and rhythmic overlapping. I employed the time signatures 4/4, 13/8, 3/4, 5/8 and 6/8, believing that these would give me a wide variety and scope to work with.

The only influence for the piece that I could think of would perhaps be Latin percussion lessons, developing workshops for children playing rhythm, and the thought of time and clocks; Hence the title of �Tick�.

As the piece has hardly any melodic content, other than the bass line, which I created as a kind of musical glue to hold the piece together, dynamics were used to their best advantage, keeping the piece moving and giving a kaleidoscopic effect of linear rhythms; allowing repetition without the listener getting jaded and agitated.

The structure of the piece can be complicated, but I felt it better to look at it as pockets of texture between each time signature, with the latter half of the piece demonstrating staggered rhythms, which gradually fall back to the introduction style of a ticking clock. This is all held together with Latin type breaks where the whole band phrase the same rhythm leading into the next section.

The piece very much relies upon the listener�s ear not been able to distinguish between the different percussive parts creating a very complicated syncopated fortification of crossed beats. The bass line stays very simple throughout, so as not to detract from the fundamentals of the main body, which is the percussive tone.

At points in the piece I decided to imitate a drum kit style of playing by giving resembling instruments their individual parts, this can be seen in bars 80 onwards.

With hindsight, having now written the piece, I recognise that this composition could possibly be a teaching aid at secondary school level, providing more advanced classes with rhythmical stimulation, enabling them to develop skills to facilitate their own compositions.

0riginally the tempo of the piece sounded too fast for imitating a clock, however I later found that the piece at very slow speeds became repetitive and uninspiring by the end. Therefore, I was left with somewhat of a dilemma, to keep the piece interesting and exciting or impersonate the item that it was suppose to represent, and risk been dreary. I came to a compromise of an average between quick and leisurely, and settled on 90bpm. This helps the piece along whilst at the same time creating the impression of the clock both at the beginning and towards the end.

Specific passages of interest for me are the way in which from a simple ticking sound upon a wood block, other instruments build upon it to create a frenzied exhilarating piece through to the end, where it all dies away again to give us what we started with. Other interesting points are the bars 96 to 109, and the way in which both skilled playing and counting are required, and the unusual amusing way in which the phrase lies upon the page.

After looking back over the piece as it neared completion, I realised that all the instruments within it had a chance to shine through the rest at certain given points, but I felt that the bass line did take too much of a back seat throughout. I developed small sections to provide more interest, which in turn aided the piece as a whole.

This piece works to its best effect when placed in a program of pieces, e.g. my portfolio. A percussion composition breaks up the continuous western harmony and melody concepts and gives the ears a fresh interest. This in turn gives more interest to the following pieces, which are in a style that we are more used to hearing.

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