Steel Mask was commissioned by sculptor, Wayne Vaughn, in January 2018. The piece was written as a project designed to connect the visual and performing arts for an enlightening and reflective listener experience. After studying the model and pictures, I kept coming back to the image of a mask; specifically a gas mask one would have worn while fighting during World War I. The piece opens with ambient metallic drones representing the single material (steel) used to construct the sculpture. However, because of the many planes seen on the sculpture, I’ve used a few different instruments to audibly represent what is seen visually. I’ve included a small augmented quote from Gustav Holst’s, “Jupiter.” The Planets Suite was written during WWI and Holst was said to have been heavily influenced by the fighting. The piece transitions to a groove-oriented vibraphone/toms dialogue. All rhythms are split between players, which adds a lot of visual appeal to this section. We then segue to playing on the actual structure itself. During this section, accents are the primary melodic structure. An improvisatory section follows in order to allow each performer to experiment and explore the different timbres the sculpture has to offer. The driving 16th notes culminate with a single bowed vibe entrance. This then is followed by a small recapitulation of the beginning theme. Because of the improvisatory portions of the piece, every performance will be different. Metallic objects of the performers’ choice can be used in place of the sculpture.
Genre: Chamber Music
# of players: 3
Level: Grade 3
Publisher: Woodson Percussion & Publishing