November 22, 2011
Percussion Ensemble makes a journey in rhythm
Temporal Mechanics Union, the percussion ensemble resident at Cowley
College, will take the audience on a journey in rhythm around the world
and beyond with their next concert on Thursday, December 8 at 7:30
p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre at Cowley College. The concert is
free and open to the public.
TMU will begin the performance with a long medley of traditional rhythms that span many cultures across the globe. Starting in the West African kingdoms of Burundi, Ghana and Mali, the collection of social and ritual music will then travel across Persia and the Pacific Ocean to Columbia and Cuba, to end in the holiday music of the Bahamas. Each rhythm will feature a different arrangement of drums, metallophones, shakers and occasionally vocal elements.
Beyond this world tour, TMU will perform several works from the experimental side of their repertoire. This includes two pieces from Interplanetary Tour, an as-yet unreleased audio drama recorded in 2009 at the same time as their debut album All Hands. “Lux Rhytmus” is a kind of composition called a soundscape, in which a collection of mechanical and musical sounds form the backdrop for melodic improvisation, all played at the lowest volume possible. “Chronomusicology” is composed in the minimalist style, using short repeated phrases to create a trance-like listening experience. The composition “Leaverage” by Daniel Goode continues in the experimental vein. The members of TMU will musically interpret the falling of leaves from above the stage.
All three of these experimental pieces will be performed on TMU’s home-made microtonal instruments. These xylophone-like instruments use a tuning system called 31-EDO, or 31 equal divisions of the octave. In this tuning system, the familiar black and white keys of the piano are augmented with pitches that fit in between, without repeating any notes. Using this tuning system, the ensemble can play music from many cultures, and well as invent hybrid key signatures. With these new instruments & compositions, TMU is one of only a few ensembles in the US to regularly perform microtonal music, and is perhaps the only percussion ensemble to specialize in the 31-edo tuning system.
The ensemble will “get medieval” for the grand finale, the debut performance of “Hastilude.” This was a generic term for combat sports such as jousting and dueling in the Middle Ages, and the composition recreates the tournament experience by providing a musical interpretation of the sword play of four warriors. Each warrior is represented by a color, and when he is fighting the color-coded part of the score is performed by one or more members of TMU. As the armored fighters square off with swords and shields in pairs or all at the same time, the music will move through the various sections. Thus, the fighters actually compose the piece as they are recreating medieval combat on the stage.
The fighters for this concert are a quartet of experienced medieval European martial artists who are associated with an area living-history group. Calling themselves The Rusted Steel Warriors for this performance, they will use replica armor and simulated weapons to recreate medieval combat.
This concert marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 10th anniversary of the ensemble, kicking off a series of concerts, recitals and special events to mark a decade of performing traditional rhythms, experimental music and percussion theatre works. The year of celebration will culminate in the December 2012 concert to be held in the Brown Theatre. Temporal Mechanics Union gave their first formal concert there in the fall of 2002.
Temporal Mechanics Union is an all-ability, community based ensemble. Anyone may join, no matter what his or her previous musical experience. More information on this concert, and on the ensemble, can be found at www.tmu.cdmayer.net, or by calling 620-441-5229. TMU also have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page. The members of Temporal Mechanics Union are Connor Coldwell, Mike Fell, Christine Hardin, Lynne Hunter, Bryan McChesney, Chris Mayer and Indigo Pohlman.