Des Imagistes

for 6 Percussionists and 2 Narrators

William Kraft

Rental
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Des Imagistes" was originally titled, during the writings stage, ?Hexagrammoid,? because the number six played such an integral role in the concept of the piece: six players positioned in the shape of a hexagram; many families of six instruments; pitched instruments grouped into complimentary hexachords; and many physical and acoustical considerations derived from aspects of the hexagram, e.g. the second poem ?Sestina: Altaforte,? being essentially set as a double trio between players I-III-V and II-IV-IV.
Ideally, the audience is best seated in the center of the ensemble to more readily sense and experience the various exploitations of the hexagram. The opening, for example, has the pairing of instruments directly opposite one another: I-IV crotales, II-V glockenspiels, III-VI tubular bells. This pairing creates lines of sound from point to point which travel in the acoustical space overhead in a clockwise direction. After the "Sestina Altaforte", the pieces generally pose constantly shifting sound sources against occasional simultaneities, sometimes as punctuations and sometimes as controlled (conducted) sections.

Eventually the title became "Des Imagistes", taken from the anthology of that name put together by Pound, containing works by poets motivated by imagery. The exploitation of the hexagram was clearly subservient to the larger desire to put into sound what the poets had put into words: to capture the colours and auras of Cummings? ?Stinging Gold;? the clangorous mentality of Pound?s medieval warrior in the ?Sestina: Altaforte;? the gentle loss in the work of Pound scholar Everett Frost in his ?11/2/72: E.P.? (the date of Pound?s death), which is taken into a chaotic rage against the living death that poets experience through societal ignorance. Throughout this increasingly chaotic and climactic section, Percussion II plays around a figure typical of that which drummers have used for decades to attract attention to a circus side show. I first heard it when I was about 15 years of age; Stravinsky uses essentially the same figure in "Petrouchka" (bass drum and cymbals, one player).

The notation is, for the most part, proportional, requiring much interactive cueing by each of the players, major ensemble cues given by one player (usually Percussion I). This notation was borrowed fundamentally from Serocki?s "Continuum", but with a very different aesthetic in mind.

"Des Imagistes" was commissioned by the Percussive Arts Society for performance at its national festival on March 26-27, 1974.

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Additional Information

Commission Percussive Arts Society
Composition Date 1974
Duration 00:23:41
Premiere Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, composer conducting; Los Angeles, CA; March 12, 1974

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