Pika-don = Flash-boom : for four percussionists and four-track tape

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James Tenney


General Info

Year: 1991
Duration: c. 22:15
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Frog Peak Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $45.00   |   Score Only - $0.00

Movements

Part I - Alamogordo
Part II - Hiroshima


Instrumentation

Player I: Maracas, Slapstick, Triangle, Sleigh Bells, Claves, Temble Block, Clay Wind Chimes, Bamboo Wind Chimes, Tam Tam, Vibraphone (sometimes arco), large Pedal Timpano, Drum set - Woodblock, Small Drum, Tambourine, Hi-hat, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Snare Drum, Large Tomtom, pedal Bass Drum

Player II: Maracas, Slapstick, Triangle, Sleigh Bells, Claves, Temble Block, Clay Wind Chimes, Bamboo Wind Chimes, Tam Tam, Vibraphone (sometimes arco), large Pedal Timpano, Drum set - Woodblock, Small Drum, Tambourine, Hi-hat, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Snare Drum, Large Tomtom, pedal Bass Drum

Player III: Maracas, Slapstick, Triangle, Sleigh Bells, Claves, Temble Block, Clay Wind Chimes, Bamboo Wind Chimes, Tam Tam, Vibraphone (sometimes arco), large Pedal Timpano, Drum set - Woodblock, Small Drum, Tambourine, Hi-hat, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Snare Drum, Large Tomtom, pedal Bass Drum

Player IV: Maracas, Slapstick, Triangle, Sleigh Bells, Claves, Temble Block, Clay Wind Chimes, Bamboo Wind Chimes, Tam Tam, Vibraphone (sometimes arco), large Pedal Timpano, Drum set - Woodblock, Small Drum, Tambourine, Hi-hat, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Snare Drum, Large Tomtom, pedal Bass Drum



Program Notes

PIKADON is a word that has been integrated into the Japanese vocabulary as a result of the atomic bombs. Translated, PIKA means brilliant light and DON means boom, representing what was seen and heard when the bombs were detonated.  Those closest to the blast are more likely to refer to it as simply pika. The proximity to the hypocenter made it so they did not hear the thunderous clap that followed the bright flash because they were simultaneously hit with the full force of the bombs. No less important is the word HIBAKUSHU, meaning survivor of the atomic bombings.

The establishment of new vocabulary to refer specifically to bomb-related incidents is indicative of the magnitude of the bombings and their impact on Japanese culture. It also helped to initiate a type of solidarity based on the shared experience of the victims.

It is estimated that 185 000 people died because of bomb-related injuries within the first year after the attacks.  This death toll has continued to rise over the years, as survivors of the blasts have been susceptible to a variety of serious health problems, including a number of aggressive cancers.  Anyone within a 2 km radius of the hypocenter was susceptible to the effects of radiation. It is important to note that estimates of death are just that; estimates. There is no universally accepted number and some estimates of the wounded are significantly higher.

At Emperor Hirohito’s urging, Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15- less than a week after the second bomb hit Nagasaki. He announced the decision to the Japanese public by way of radio broadcast at noon that day, marking the first time his subjects had ever heard his voice. Due in large part to the misinformation and propaganda that the population was fed regarding the war efforts, the reaction of the Japanese nation was overwhelmingly negative. Even those who felt the full wrath of the atomic bombs were outraged.

This indignation later gave way to a sense of victimization and loss, which still characterizes the Japanese outlook today. One positive that emerged in time was a desire protect the world from the horrors inflicted upon them, a responsibility that has become the lasting impression of the bomb. [1]

In Part I (“Alamogordo”) of Pika-Don (“flash-boom”) one voice per channel of a four-channel tape reads the text printed in the middle of the associated player’s part in the score. The voices on the tape are reading eye-witness accounts of the “Trinity” atom bomb test in New Mexico on July 16th, 1945, by Brig. General Thomas F. Farrell, George B. Kistiakowsky, engineer, William L. Laurence, reporter, and Isador I. Rabi, physicist. The readers are Paul Dutton, Bruce Elder, Reinhard Reitzenstein, and James Tenney.

In Part II (“Hiroshima”), there are eight voices, reading texts by young women and children who witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945: Shunnen Arishige, Shintaro Fukuhara, Toshiko Ikeda, Yohko Kuwabara, Naoko Masuoka, Naoko Masuoka, Hiroko Nakamoto, Iwao Nakamura, Setsuko Sakamoto, and Ikuko Wakasa. The readers are Ellen Band, Wende Bartley, Allison Cameron, Kathy Elder, Michelle George, Shannon Peet, Lauren Pratt, and Gayle Young. The tape was produced in the studio of Randall A. Smith, Toronto.

Pika-Don was commissioned by the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the University of Mexico Percussion Ensemble, with the assistance of the Ford Foundation. It was first performed by that ensemble at the CCA on 28 August 1993; and has been since performed by the same ensemble at New Music across America–Albuquerque on 3 October 1993, and by the Toronto percussion ensemble Batterie Park at New Music across America-Toronto on 3 October 1993. — program note by James Tenney

Review

Errata

Awards

Commercial Discography

James Tenney - Pika-Don. Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble Conducted by Jan Williams, 2003.

Online Recordings

Recent Performances

Emporia State University Percussion Ensemble - November 29, 2017 - Albert Taylor Concert Hall - Doomsday Concert

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

Cognate CanonsMultiple Percussion; Strings
deus ex machina – Multiple Percussion; With Tape
Having never written a note for Percussion – Multiple Percussion
Maximusic – Multiple Percussion
Piano/Percussion Complement – Multiple Percussion; Piano
Pika-don = Flash-boom : for four percussionists and four-track tapePercussion Quartet; With Tape
RunePercussion Quintet
Three Pieces for Drum Quartet – Percussion Quartet



Additional Resources



References

  1. (1945neveragain.wordpress.com)