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Ball lightning

Composer: Heng LIU

Instrument: Snare Drum and two Metals

Level: Advanced

Published: 2023

Price: €20.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • In this piece, the snare drum should be set with a thin cloth, which needs:

      1. Put on the edge of drumhead in the top (about 1/6 of the area of the head).

      2. When play on it with a stick, it sounds like "Du" or "Gu".

      In this piece, there are two different pitched sound of metals or anvils will be used. For setting the metals, there are two different ways:

      1. Put the two metals or anvils on a stand or tables in front of the snare drum.

      2. If there is one special metal, anvil or instrument can produce two different sound, it is also welcomed to be used, and it can be put(or taped) on the bottom of drumhead of the snare drum.

      There are two anvils, metals or instruments will be used in this  piece. Any kind of metals are all welcomed, no matter if it with a  long sustain or not, the only thing is it would be in two different  pitches. (For instruments, Chinese Cymbal, Splash Cymbal, one piece of Crotales, Gongs is also welcomed).

  • Instrumentation +
    • Snare Drum and two Metals

  • About the composer +
    • Heng LIU is the principal percussion of the China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, executive director of China Percussion Association, artist of MEINL Percussion, MEINL Cymbals, Innovative Percussion, Marimba One, and Remo.

      Liu studied percussion from childhood with his father Yaguang LIU, professor of percussion at Xi 'an Conservatory of Music. In 2005, Liu was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music. He studied with professor Gang LIU and professor Biao LI successively and obtained bachelor's and master's degrees. By the time he was 18, Liu had won the first prize in the National Youth Percussion Competition. Liu was a percussion jury of the Italian International Percussion Competition, where he also held master classes and special concerts. He also judges the annual International Network Percussion Competition and National Youth Percussion Competition.

      Between 2017 to 2019, Liu embarked on his improvisation and interactive percussion concert "Give me one hour" tour. The tour hit many major Chinese cities including Tianqiao Art Center in Beijing, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Xi 'An concert hall, Shijiazhuang Center for the Performing Arts, etc. Liu performed entirely improvised sets based on interaction with the audience, bringing concertgoers a brand new musical experience.

      So far, Liu has published two albums: Percussion Visionary --Heng LIU Percussion Concert and DRUMS, an original album released by "Hei Chao" Duo with renowned drummer Yanchao LI. He also writes a personal column Heng LIU Said in music weekly.

As a percussionist, Liu has traveled to various music festivals around the world. These include: Italian International Percussion Competition and Festival, Greek International Percussion Competition and Festival, NCPA International Percussion Festival, Beijing International Electronic Music Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Jazz Shanghai Music Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, MIDI Festival and so on.

      In the meanwhile, Liu has created more than 30 works, including percussion ensemble piece "The General", "Memory", "Face2Face", percussion and electronic music "Delay", "Percumotion", percussion solo "Rain the Blind Monk", "Wild LEO ", "Poem" and many more. In 2016, his Chinese Traditional Percussion solo piece "Gazing on Mountain TAI" won the 1st prize of China Traditional Music Festival - CCOM ethnic Percussion works collection competition.

      In 2019, Heng LIU won "Best Work Awards" and "Best All-round Percussionist" of 2019 Drummmer's Ceremony.

  • Reviews +
    • Review (Percussive Notes, June 2024)

      “Ball Lightning” is a phrenetic, exciting solo for snare drum and metals. The composer calls for the performer to prepare the snare drum with a cloth and two metal sounds (or place these immediately in front of the drum). Since it requires such a small setup, this piece is an excellent introduction to multi-percussion and different notational systems.

      The piece begins subtly, with pianissimo sixteenth notes percolating on the covered portion of the snare drum. This motor-like drone of sixteenth notes continues throughout the piece, occasionally broken by syncopated passages in mixed meter to temporarily interrupt the flow. From the initial covered drum sounds, the player gradually integrates new timbres, playing on the uncovered portion of the drum and the rim, adding rimshots, and playing on the metal pieces. The repetitiveness of the sixteenth-note rhythm on the covered portion of the drum is broken through the use of extreme dynamic bursts, sudden switches to uncommon meters, and interjections of the different timbres.

      The composition has a slow build, with gradually increasing dynamics and rhythmic complexity until it reaches the climactic peak on the last page. Here, the performer executes a fortissimo closed roll while simultaneously playing a rhythmic line on the two metals. After reaching the dynamic peak, the performer diminuendos to nothing, giving the illusion that the piece has concluded. From that soft dynamic, the performer builds intensity one last time with an accelerating open-stroke roll, ending the piece with a frantic burst of sixteenth notes and open-stroke rolls, finishing the piece with an emphatic rimshot.

      “Ball Lightning” is an excellent challenge for an advanced undergraduate or graduate student recital or jury. It demands control at soft dynamics, demonstrates both open and closed rolls, and requires the agile navigation of various beating spots on the drum and metal sounds. The minimal setup makes for an easily transportable piece, ideal for taking on the road or using at auditions. “Ball Lightning” has great potential as a virtuosic recital or competition piece.

      —Hannah Weaver

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Nicola Lee
      Photo: NCPA Orchestra
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER