Program Note Fan Fare features a unique percussion instrument, the Taiwanese fan, and was inspired by marimbist Pei-Ching Wu’s performance with my students at Ohio University. Other instruments include Chinese jing cymbals, Korean gongs, and traditional Chinese drums. The piece freely utilizes musical elements from Taiwan, Japan, China, and Korea, and is influenced by my performance collaborations with traditional musicians from those countries and my travels to Korea and Japan. The initial performances were given by my students at Ohio University and at the Camp Batawagama summer music camp in Iron County, Michigan.
1. Drums (Chinese or Japanese) The ideal drums are traditional Chinese toms or Japanese Taiko. Standard concert toms are a fine substitute, but it may help to mute the concert toms to produce a drier sound that is closer to the sound produced by skin heads. Any drums (especially those with skin heads, congas and bongos for example) can be utilized. The drums should be played with sticks appropriate for the size and style of the drum. Notation: x = play on rim or drum shell with stick to produce a sharp sound. When marked “a2” both drummers play the same rhythm rather than separate stems up and stems down parts.
2. Gongs (Korean Kkwaenggwari) The ideal gong is the small Korean gong called Kkwaenggwari. It functions as the lead instrument in Korean Samulnori music, where it is the higher and smaller of the two gongs. It is played with a disc-shaped stick held in the right hand. The left hand holds the gong by its string and controls the open and damped sounds with the fingers. If it is not possible to use this instrument then a chinese opera gong is probably the closest substitute. Notation: o = strike the gong with no dampening—an open ringing sound. + = strike the gong while muting the gong with the left hand fingers—a closed, dry sound. When marked “a2” both gongs play the same rhythm rather than separate stems up and stems down parts.
3. Cymbals (Chinese Opera) Chinese opera cymbals, sometimes called Chinese jing cymbals, are the intended sound for the piece. These are much smaller than traditional crash cymbals and have a large bell relative to their size. Their sound is very different than crash cymbals so traditional crash cymbals should not be used. If a substitute is necessary then a small, thick suspended cymbal (such as a single hi-hat cymbal) should be played on the bell with a triangle beater. The left hand can still create the open and closed sounds and a coin can be held against the cymbal to produce the sizzle effect. Notation: o = open, ringing sound + = choked, closed sound. Cymbals strike and each other and remain tightly closed. They may be played into the body to insure they do not ring. normal notation = sizzle effect. One edge of the cymbals remains in contact as the cymbals play small, close crashes, creating a continual sizzle sound. When marked “a2” both cymbals play the same rhythm rather than separate stems up and stems down parts.
4. Fans (Martial Arts Fan, Taiwanese or other) These fans provide the inspiration for the piece and finding appropriate fans is essential. These fans have large wooden slats covered with fabric and make a loud snapping sound when opened rapidly. In early 2015 a good quality fan for the piece could be purchased from amazon.com for about $15 each—Blades USA, Bamboo Kung Fu Fighting Fan Dragon and Phoenix (red or black). Each fan player needs two fans, one for each hand. Fans from Taiwan were used in the first performance of the piece and these came in right hand and left hand models. However, two matching fans (both right hand or not specified) work just as well. Getting comfortable with opening and closing the fans in time takes considerable practice. Fan players should also be aware of the theatrical nature of their part and coordinate their movements as a section.
Notation: x = click closed fans together, creating a stick click sound R = open right hand fan L = open left hand fan B = open both right and left hand fans
Recording- Live Performance Ohio University Percussion Ensemble