In 1957 the West African country of Ghana was founded, gaining its independence from Great Britain. In this time of celebration Ghanaians created the musical style known as Kpanlogo. This music features strong grooves created by the interlocking rhythms of drums, bells, and rattles, combined with infectious songs and dance. When I set out to create a short piece to feature an ensemble of strings and percussion, I became intrigued with the idea of combining the different musical traditions or “streams” of these instruments. The idea to use Kpanlogo as a point of departure came to me as I imagined the unique sound of strings playing these interlocking rhythmic patterns. In addition, the simple two chord structure often found in Kpanlogo today is used as a harmonic basis for the piece, though it is presented here in six different key areas.
Independent Streams features two hand drums that serve as soloists and provide the rhythmic foundation. The type of hand drums used are left up to the discretion of the performers. In the premiere performance, the featured drums were the Darabukka and Boombakini. While these are not drums from Ghana, both have a light sound that complements the timbre and dynamics of the strings. The Darabukka is a common North African and Middle Eastern drum, constructed from clay or metal with an hourglass shape, and played with virtuosic combinations of fingers and hands. The Boombakini is an instrument recently invented by Fellé Vega of the Dominican Republic. This wooden drum is also played with fingers and hands and combines the sounds of the Congas, Bongos, and Cajon.
The piece was composed for Michael Carrera and Marjorie Bagley for the 2008 Juniper Music Festival, which featured repertoire for strings and percussion. Originally composed for string trio and percussion quartet, it was re-scored for string quartet and percussion quartet in 2013, receiving its premiere at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The version for saxophone quartet and percussion quartet was premiered in 2016 by Oakland University.
Vibraphone, Marimba, and two hand drums
String Quartet (vln, vln, vla, vcl)
Saxophone Quartet (sop, alto, tenor, bari)
Recording- Live Performance