Posted By : Jeff Moore
Piece Title : Phage
No. of times Viewed (September 2019) :11
Total No. of times Viewed :2021
No. of Media Uploads :0(Videos -0, MP3 - 0, Photos - 0)
Dificulty Rating :
Level : Junior/Senior
Composer / Arranger : Muchmore, Pat
Composer / Arranger Details:

Pat Muchmore was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1976. He showed an early interest in music, but came to formal studies fairly late in life. He started learning the piano at the age of 11, and he quickly added the cello, trombone and guitar to the list of instruments he played. He began serious composition study under Dr. Carolyn Bremer at the University of Oklahoma in 1996, and he earned his Bachelor of Music from the same institution in 2000. Currently, Pat Muchmore resides in New York City where he is earning his PhD in Music Composition at the City University of New York Graduate Studies and University Center studying under John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, and David Olan. He lives there with his wife, Jenny, and their insane cat, Webb.


Total Number of Percussionists Required :10+ Percussionist(s)
Categories : Tuned Percussion / Percussion Ensemble
Instrument / Discipline : Large Percussion Ensemble
Instrumentation : Bass Drum / Brake Drum / Cabasa / Castanets / Chimes / China Cymbal (x2) / Crash Cymbals (x2) / Crotales (Set of) / Field Drum (with snares) / Maraca / Orchestra Bells / Suspended Cymbal (x4) / Tam-Tam (x3) / Tom (x5) / Vibraphone (x2) / Xylophone
Range of Instruments / Number of Drums : NA
Written for / Commissioned by : Not a Commissioned Work
Permission given for Youtube video by Copyright holder
and Youtube Channel Owner. Recorded / Provided by:
 Illinois State University Perc. Ens.
Accompanied :N/A
Publisher :OU Percussion Press
Publishers Website
Publisher Details :

In 1977 the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensemble embarked on a project that developed into a national model for the encouragement and development of new music for percussion ensemble.  The OU Percussion Ensemble Commissioning Series regularly engages outstanding composers to write works for this medium.  The Commissioning Series is responsible for the creation of some of today`s staples in the percussion ensemble repertoire.

     In 1983 the University of Oklahoma funded the establishment of the OU Percussion Press, a non-profit extension of the percussion area. Through the Percussion Press, the commissioning series compositions plus other works expressly written for the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensembles have been made available for purchase and performance by the world`s leading percussion ensembles. The Percussion Press` catalog numbers more than 50 works, all published in a non-profit venture as a service to the profession.

Year Composed / Copyright Date :1999 /  2000
Duration :9Minutes
No. of Mallets/Sticks Required :2
Special Needs :N/A
Sheet Music Available From      Check to see if in stock
Programme Notes / Performance Details :

Phage is a programmatic work that portrays the infection of a bacteria cell by a T-4 bacteriophage. The phage is a virus that attaches itself to bacteria with its spidery tail fibers in a stage called adsorption. The virus then injects its own
DNA into the host cell and causes the cells normal replication functions to reproduce phage DNA instead of bacterial DNA. In a stage called morphogenesis, this DNA begins creating new phage entities one piece at a
time. A phase known as the "eclipse phase" follows, wherein it is impossible to ascertain the existence of the phage within the host cell. This phase is abruptly cut short however by the process of induction, and hundreds of newly replicated bacteriophage begin to fill the bacterium. The ferocity and relative quickness of this process give rise to several mutated genes amongst the individual viruses. Although the virility of these mutations is often no less than the original, some mutations are entirely impotent, a fact which leads to the eventual death of the entire colony. In the final stages of the bacterium`s life, the phage inside it begin to produce a substance called lysogen, which is capable of breaking down bacterial cell walls. During lysis, the cell walls are dissolved and hundreds of phage are released into themedium. They continue to attack bacteria, until the impotent mutations borne of their own violence eventually outnumber virile phage. The virus colony and bacteria eventually die.  

These events are presented musically primarily through the interactions of two motives. The first, the "host" motive, is presented in the very beginning of the piece in the marimba orchestra and is characterized by the perfect 5th. The second, the "phage" motive, appears with its emphasis on the diminished 5th in the second section, corresponding with the adsorption phase of the infection. As the section continues, the phage motive appears simultaneously with the host motive, representing its interference in the bacterial replication processes. A new, motoric version of the host appears, whispering at first, in 6/4. The phage motive begins to introduce a triple, 12/8 interpretation of the meter, which is
adopted by this new version of the host motive as it is subverted by the malign presence. The section culminates in a climactic statement wherein the perfect 5th of the host motive is surrendered to the diminished 5th of the phage motive.
Morphogenesis is represented by a section wherein the phage motive is replicated one note at a time in the timpani, temple blocks, and concert toms. The eclipse phase is represented somewhat fantastically as a mistakenly  triumphant presentation of the host motive, violently interrupted by the reemergent phage motive`s induction. A mutation of the phage motive based on triple-subdivisions of the beat appears which slowly overtakes the entire piece. Even as lysis begins, field drum, bass drum, and timpani present brutal statements of the triple rhythm in quarter-note triplets. The piece ends abruptly on a scene of utter devastation; both host and parasite are annihilated.


Performance Directions:


 A plus sign directly over or under a note head indicated a dead stroke.

All rolls on drums with snare drum sticks should be closed concert-rolled. Otherwise, all rolls are single-stroke.

Mallet or fingering dampening in the Vibraphone, Orchestra Bells, Crotales, and Chimes is indicated with a small x on the pitch to be dampened at the approximate location where the sound should be stopped.

The ensemble arrangement (found in the score) is not a crucial compositional element with a few possible exceptions.

1. Phage requires only three graduated Tam-Tams (small, medium, and large) but they are shared by Percussion IX, X, XII. Some setup whereby all four can reach the Tam-Tams expeditiously is required. Percussion IX and XII have particularly fast connections.

2. Percussion XI requires that the performer be able to play the suspended cymbal with the same hand he is playing the highest log drum pitch and the second lowest log drum pitch. Cross-sticking should be unnecessary in a proper setup.

3. If necessary, Percussion I and V can share a 5-octave Marimba.  Percussion V’s suspended cymbal should then be moved correspondingly. Percussion I should leave out the notes in parentheses in order to accommodate a second player on the instrument.

4. The Concert-Tom setup in Percussion X is important in order to avoid cross-sticking. With the proper setup, it should be unnecessary.

5. Although not of overriding importance, having the vibraphones on opposite sides of the ensemble has a pleasing effect in several passages.


All mallet indications are intended merely to give an idea of the sort of sound required. Additional mallets can and should be added if a greater variety of timbres are desired. In particular, the timpanist may choose to use several different mallets in the sections marked general timpani mallets.


A superball is simply a high-bounce ball, such as can be purchased at any toy store, attached to a stick. When rubbed against a Tam-Tam with enough pressure, it should produce a keening sound similar to a whale song. The faster the superball is drug across the Tam-Tam, the higher pitched and harsher the sound.

Instrument Substitutions:

By Cabasa, I mean a native instrument consisting of a gourd with a loose net of beads around it. If this is unavailable, and Afuche is not an appropriate substitution. The sound of the Cabasa part should be darker, louder and looser sounding than the Maraca part which immediately proceeds it. One possible solution would be to have the Maraca used by Percussion XII be a small, relatively high-pitched instrument. Percussion X could then replace the Cabasa with two, larger Maracas being shook wildly, out of tandem with each other.

Two Chinese Cymbals are called for in Phage. They were chosen due to the extra-harsh quality they create when bowed. If none are available, Suspended Cymbals can be used instead. If possible, these Suspended Cymbals should sound as harsh as possible when bowed.  If only one Chinese Cymbal is available, there are two options. With the setup in the score, there should be plenty of time for Percussion IV to walk over and use the Chinese Cymbal in the Percussion XII part. If this does not prove possible however, it is more important for the Chinese Cymbal to be in Percussion XII; Percussion IV should use a normal Suspended Cymbal. (again, as harsh as possible)

Pedal Markings:

The Vibraphone and Chime parts both make occasional use of pedal markings. When none are given, the performer should strive to keep the sound from being muddy.

An arrowhead after a pedaling indication mean that the pedal should be held down throughout an entire section. In such situations, mallet dampening should only be used where indicated.

Soloistic parts:

In Phage, the Tom-Tom part in Percussion X and the Timpani part in Percussion XIII have extended solos of not inconsiderable difficulty. The timpani part in particular is very virtuosic, and tuning indications would be extremely helpful.











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Posted By : Jeff Moore    Date Posted: 23 February 2009 08:44:00 AM
Advanced college ensemble piece (13 players). An interesting premise for a piece (see program note). Requires a large percussion set-up with multiple gongs. Very loud ending with many opportunities to vary mood and color. Well-written and immacuately detailed performance directions.
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