Boulder Canyon, Hoover Dam

Duration: 5.75 minutes

Difficulty: ★★★

Released: 2019.07.05

Players: (1) Vibraphone + Electronics

Purchase PDF Sheet Music

(Commissioned by Danielle Gonzalez)

video by Danielle Gonzalez

About “Boulder Canyon, Hoover Dam”

“BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” was commissioned by Danielle Gonzalez after hearing an early version of my marimba solo “산 • San • Mountain.”
“BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” was originally written as a component of Danielle’s “Natural Beauty” show – a multimedia concert program featuring percussion music and promoting environmental protection and sustainability. While visiting Hoover Dam in the summer of 2019, I decided that it was the perfect combination of clean energy, humankind’s relationship with nature, industry, and American history to serve as the theme for this composition.

Structurally, “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” is based on the 1955 Bureau of Reclamation documentary “The Story of Hoover Dam” which is shown to tourists visiting Hoover Dam. I condensed the 28 minute documentary into a 6 minute narrative to serve as the backbone of “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM.”

I intended “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” to be performed without a click track, so the track features a “metronome” comprised of water and industrial sounds to guide the performer. Much of the melodic material used in both the backing track and the vibraphone solo part are inspired by the music of Steve Reich as well as dance and pop music. In other instances, the melodic material is a melodicization of the narration from the documentary.

While Hoover Dam is geographically located in Black Canyon, the legislation that resulted in the construction of Hoover Dam was “The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928,” hence the name of the piece: “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM.”

“BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” is great for students interested in electro-acoustic music, multimedia performance pieces, and contemporary percussion music with a pop music influence. This solo features two-mallet playing, four-mallet playing, and playing with one hand while bowing the vibraphone with the other.

When I delivered “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” to Danielle, I also sent her a link to the complete documentary, “The Story of Hoover Dam,” around which I created this piece. Danielle then created a condensed edit of the video component of the documentary to play in sync with the backing track during performances. “BOULDER CANYON, HOOVER DAM” may be performed with or without video projection.

– electronic playback [.wav] + video projection [.mov] are included with purchase of the score.

산 • San • Mountain

Duration: 6.5 minutes

Difficulty: ★★★★★

Premiered: 2020.11.01

Players: (1) 5 Octave Marimba + Electronics

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(Commissioned by Ji Hye Jung)

video by Continuous Motion Productions, released through VicFirth

About “산 • San • Mountain”

“산 • SAN • MOUNTAIN” is a five-octave marimba + electronics solo commissioned by Ji Hye Jung.

Thematically, “MOUNTAIN” is about being in nature and in the mountains. In the early stages of composition this piece, I came across a conversation between Jeff Evans, Bud Brutsman, and Joe Rogan. Evans was discussing climbing and rescuing people off of Mt. Everest (among other mountains) when he said “I like to be with my people, in the hills. That’s my church…the cathedral of the big mountains makes me happy and sort of rejuvenates my soul.” After hearing that line, I decided that “mountains” would be the theme of this piece.

Originally, this piece was titled “Cathedral of the Big Mountains” (from Evans’ quote). Ji Hye Jung suggested that I use Korean in the title and so I chose the title “산 • SAN • MOUNTAIN.” “산” is the Korean character for “SAN” which translates to “MOUNTAIN.”

“MOUNTAIN” is not necessarily about the achievement of climbing mountains or about any mountain in particular (although it was initially inspired by the Himalayas). This piece is thematically about the sense of ‘wonder’ one experiences when out in nature and the connection of being in mountains/nature to being at home or church.

“MOUNTAIN” is a technically challenging work for marimba that blends contemporary percussion music with pop, electronic, and dance music. Throughout the piece, the relationship between the marimba and track varies. At times, the marimba is the dominant voice and the track serves as an electronic environment in which the marimba exists. In other instances, the electronic playback functions as an enhancement of the marimba, adding additional textures and colors to the sound of the marimba.

The marimba writing for this piece draws influence and inspiration from the popular marimba solos Jacob Druckman’s “Reflections of the Nature of Water,” Joseph Schwantner’s “Velocities,” Bruce Hamilton’s “Interzones,” and David Maslanka’s “Variations on Lost Love” among others. The electronic track draws influence and inspiration from the album ‘China’ by Vangelis as well as the music of Bjork, David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, Glenn Kotche, Radiohead, and Steve Reich.

Prior to “MOUNTAIN,” I had written a few works for marimba and had released an album and several EPs of electronic music, but never a piece for electronic and acoustic instruments.

“산 • SAN • MOUNTAIN” is great for students that are looking for a challenging marimba solo and want to explore electro-acoustic percussion repertoire.

“MOUNTAIN” is intended to be performed without a click track.

– electronic playback [.wav] + electronic playback (with click) [.wav] is included with purchase of the score