Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So Percussion

Monday night I attended the "So Percussion" performance at the Heritage Hall on Main St. not really knowing what to expect. The pamphlet claimed to create music "that is at turns raucous and touching, barbarous and heartfelt[;]" however, I could not legitimately say that I knew what the word "percussion" meant until I arrived and the quartet began their performance. I will discuss this further later on.
I arrived early in order to get a good seat. I was immediately captivated by the ambiance of the old building which used to be a post office. The shadowy entrance and dim lighting followed by the cascading dark drapes allowed for me to imagine a time long ago passed. As soon as I sat down, a gentleman, who I assumed to be one of the performers, came into the large, darkened hall gingerly carrying a taupe coloured, clay flower pot in the palm of his hand. I assumed that the flower pot was filled with water since he was carrying it with such care. Interestingly, he began to tune the flower pot by tapping on it and quickly comparing it to the sound of the other flower pots paintakingly positioned nearby. To satisfy my curiosity, I got up to look inside the flower pots and found them empty and not filled with water as I had assumed earlier. I continued to scrutinize the instruments and sat back down to wearily watch the audience members arrive.
Later, four middle-aged women arrived and sat down behind me putting an end to my boredom. In loud whispers, they eagerly discussed how attractive the men in the hall were while giggling like school girls.
Soon thereafter, the performance began with the quartet clapping in unison to the beat of 3, 1, 2, 3. To hear it is to believe it. I was in awe of their abilities. Their heads were bowed in concentration, nodding to each other once in a while. It was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, my admiration did not extend to their next performance which entailed the playing of monotonous notes on a mini synthesizer accompanied by the constant shaking of a maraca. The constant shaking of the maraca was mind numbing and I felt like I was being put into a trance.
The marimba performance came next and was slightly more entertaining. I just sat back, closed my eyes and imagined that I was in the Caribbean.
Their final performance involved steel pipes and drums. I was fascinated by the quartet's ability to synchronize their movements. Each performer had two percussion sticks in one hand and one in the other while playing both instruments at the same time. The sound was not unpleasant; however, it left my ears ringing and I noticed that quite a few audience members moved to the perimeter of the hall. I think they were conveying the same feelings I was.
The night concluded with the quartet teaching the audience how to clap. Not surprisingly, I failed miserably. I simply could not keep up with the 3, 1, 2, 3 beat.
All in all, it was not a bad night. I did not feel that any of the music was either "heartfelt" or "touching[;]" however, "raucous" is the perfect descriptive word for a night filled with diverse sounds that I had never been exposed to before.

1 comment:

  1. A very evocative description of the performance of acoustic space, Sylvia. Thanks for sharing.