Posted By : Jeff Moore
Piece Title : Compendium
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Dificulty Rating :
Level : Senior / Graduate
Composer / Arranger : Wilkins, Blake (1965-)
Composer / Arranger Details:

Having joined the University of Houston faculty in August 1997, percussionist and composer Blake Wilkins is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at the Moores School of Music. Prior to coming to UH he served as Visiting Instructor of Percussion at the University of Oklahoma. He also served as percussionist and substitute principal timpanist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic through 1993-97, and was a member of the Oklahoma Panhandlers, a professional steel drum band. In particular, Dr. Wilkins specializes in solo classical marimba performance. Additionally, he is a strong advocate for the performance of new music, and along with performing regularly with the University of Southern California`s Contemporary Music Ensemble and OU`s New Century Ensemble, he co-founded El Dos, an experimental improvisation duo, with bassist Michael Lee. Equally active as a composer, Mr. Wilkins has studied composition with Robert Moore, James Hopkins, and Michael Hennagin amongst others. His catalog reveals compositions of large scale for a variety of media with his primary orientation being toward chamber music for non-traditional combinations of instruments. His two works for large percussion ensemble, including a prize winner in the 1988 Percussive Arts Society International Composition Competition, are published by the OU Percussion Press and have been recorded by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble on the compact disc, Twilight Offering Music, distributed by Albany Records (Troy 214).

Total Number of Percussionists Required :10+ Percussionist(s)
Categories : Tuned Percussion / Percussion Ensemble
Instrument / Discipline : Large Percussion Ensemble
Instrumentation : 4 1/3 Octave Marimba (Low A) (x4) / Almglocken (x5) / Bass Drum / Bongos (Set of) / Brake Drum (x2) / Chimes / China Cymbal / Congas (Set of) / Crotales (Set of) / Cymbal / Gong (x6) / Medium Gong / Orchestra Bells (x2) / Snare Drum / Suspended Cymbal (x4) / Timbales / Tom (x5) / Vibraphone (x2) / Xylophone (x2)
Range of Instruments / Number of Drums : Both orchestra bells require a high D. The Chimes require a high G. The pitches of the five graduated almglocken are relative; specific pitches are not required.
Written for / Commissioned by : OU Percussion Ensemble
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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 :1994 /  1995
Duration :12Minutes
No. of Mallets/Sticks Required :2
Special Needs :(4) Superball mallets, (3) bass bows
Sheet Music Available From      Check to see if in stock
Programme Notes / Performance Details :

At first glance, the eight years that separate Twilight Offering Music and Compendium seem to bear witness to a drastic change in aesthetic orientation for Blake Wilkins: on the surface, the differences between these two pieces are striking. Yet Compendium is not fundamentally that far removed from Twilight Offering Music. They seem more to occupy different points on a continuum. Compendium simply brings to the forefront and provides an enhanced focus on the primary issues that have informed the bulk of Wilkins` compositions to date: a fascination with coherent organic structures; a preoccupation with the interaction of disparate closed-ended processes; the cultivation of virtuosity in the context of ensemble playing; and the generation of unique and compelling sound worlds.

Written between June and September of 1994, Compendium is the result of a commission granted by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble. It began as a significantly different piece bearing the title 17 Essays on Parametric Transmogrification Presented Coetaneously and In a Single Movement. Wilkins quickly discovered, however, that the broad outline of abstract principles he intended the work to embody would have resulted in a composition that rivaled Twilight Offering Music in length. The composer`s central strategy was to isolate the normally integrated parameters of music ú rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, timbre and so forth ú and submit them to various closed-ended transformational processes. The seventeen resulting processes, or "essays," would be of different lengths, starting and ending at different points in the music. Some would last for less than a minute, others would extend through the entirety of the piece. They would overlap and intersect, yet always remain self-contained.

This strategy is also the primary focus of Compendium, which even uses some of the music intended for original. Thus, Compendium is precisely that ú a summary of the principles developed in the 17 Essays, focusing mostly on those processes dealing with rhythmic and melodic transformations. But while derivative of the 17 Essays, Compendium is a substantially different work. "As for the fate of 17 Essays on Parametric Transmogrification," writes the composer, "I am loath not to complete it, lest I might disappoint those who have assured me the title is too good to waste...."

Compendium was commissioned by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble, Richard C. Gipson, Conductor. It received its premiere performance November 18, 1994, by the Ensemble at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Gipson conducting.


Performance Directions:


1. Accidentals carry throughout the measure, but only in the register in which originally introduced. Parenthetical courtesy accidentals are frequently provided in order to avoid any possible confusion.

2. It is crucial, particularly in terms of player-to-player relationships, that the ensemble arrangment recommendations made on the previous page be followed. This work is organized musically in such a manner as to make use  of the spatial dimensions of the ensemble, and variations from the suggested setup would undermine that organization.

On the other hand, individual percussionists should feel free to personalize their own instrument arrangements as necessary.This especially recommended for 9th Percussion, due to the highly ambidextrous nature of the part.

3.Mallet indications should always be considered valid until the next indication change. If only one mallet selection is indicated in a passage requiring different instruments, it is intended  that all such instruments be played with the indicated mallet.


4. Pedaling-Generally, pedalings are indicated by slur markings. In passages where there may be some confustion, or where slur marks are intended to indicate phrasing, pedaling indicated in short passages by a bracket, or in longer passages by Ped. and cancelled by *.

Where pedalings are not indicated, each note is to be pedaled and allowed to ring for its full notated duration. Passages not pedaled are marked "no Ped."

1/2 Ped. indicated a full-pedaling in which the pedal is only slightly released at the appropriate point.

Under no circumstances should mallet dampening be used in passages taken a single pedal. Notes in such passages should be allowed to vibrate freely.

5. Relative motor speeds are indicated as follows-1 (Slow); 2 (Medium); 3 (Fast)

There is no need to attempt to synchronize motor speeds between the two vibraphones.


6. The chime part (9th Percussion) is written for an instrument that includes the high G (G5). If this pitch is unavailable, onlly the G (and not the F) in ms. 59 should be  transposed down an octave.

7.Two sets of Orchestra Bells are required, and each require a high D. If pitches above C are not available, only these individual pitches should be transposed down one octave.

8. The superball mallet is constructed of a high-bounce ball (available at any major toy store) measuring approx. 1" in diameter. A small hole should be drilled 1/2 down into the superball, and a 1/8" dowel rod. approx. 3 1/2" in length, is inserted into the hole and secured with superglue.

Sounds production results from the friction created by rubbing the superball on the indicated surface. the superball mallet should be held by the dowel rod, not the ball itself. The more pressure that is applied and the faster the speed at which the ball is drawn across the vibrating surface, the higher the frequency of the resulting sound. The performer should experiment with playing at different velocities and pressures to discover different pitches and harmonics that can be produced.

While the sound produced should be consistent witht he character of a given context, the actual pitch of a given note is left to the discretion of the performer or the conductor.


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