What clarity? (with strings version)

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Dave Hollinden

General Info

Year: 2000-01
Duration: c. 18:00 + Cadenza
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Dave Hollinden
Cost: Full Orchestra Score - $40.00   |   Small Study Score - $20.00   |   Parts - Rental   |   Solo Part Only - $20.00   |   Piano Reduction Only - $20.00


Concerto in one movement


Multiple Percussion: Snare Drum, 6 Tom Toms, High-hat, Tambourine with head, Almglocken, 2 Cowbells, 2 Temple Blocks, 2 Wood Blocks, 3 Bell Plates, 2 Brake Drums, Metal Pipe, Tibetan Prayer Bowl, Tibetan Prayer Cymbal

2 Flutes, Flute 1 doubling on Piccolo
2 Oboes
2 Clarinets in B flat, Clarinet 2 doubling on B flat Bass Clarinet
2 Bassoons
2 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in B flat
2 Trombones
Percussion(1): 2 Bass Drums, Thunder Sheet, Tam Tam, 3 Cymbals
Soloist: see above for instrumentation 1st Violin
2nd Violin
Double Bass

Program Notes

About The Piece
The piece opens slowly (mm=44) and quietly, with sparse orchestration and the soloist on snare drum (Introspective). There is a gradual increase in tempo and energy leading to rhythmic dialog between the snare drum and a large mallet choir formed from nearly the entire ensemble (Resolute, determinded). This erupts into a fff tutti at a ponderously slow tempo over which the soloist performs virtuosic snare drum passage work in double time (With great commotion). This large body of sound eventually collapses, dissolving into a very quiet and softly shaped section for Timpani, low marimba, vibraphone and the Soloist on metal instruments (Spent, vulnerable).

A brief chordal section (Sober, solemn) leads to the second half of the piece, which is based on brisk, angular rhythmic themes and in which the Soloist utilizes the full multipercussion setup in dialog with the ensemble. Sections for full ensemble and Soloist (Bracing, with a sudden burst of energy and Playful) are followed by rhythmic passage work for the mallet choir alone (Anxious, demanding), and finally a short duet for Timpani and the Soloist on High-hat (Persistent, determined). The final section (Precise, confident) distills the harmonic and rhythmic elements of the piece by means of rhythmic dialog between the full ensemble and the Soloist on a large, low Tom Tom.

Regarding the Title
While the question mark formally makes the title a question, "what clarity?" is actually a statement. It is a response, a reply to the assumption that answers are necessary.

When I first sat down to work on this piece, I was busy with questions about life; questions that ultimately had no answers yet were keeping me fixated. When I finally began putting notes on paper, the questions were still with me, as is evident in the opening of the piece marked "Introspective" in the score.

It was when I put these first notes on paper, however, that my ideas began to develop freely and relationships began to grow in the music. I wrote the rest of the piece without restraint, unencumbered by my earlier questioning. In searching for a title I thought of how the piece came about, of the questions to which I found no answers. In this sense, "what clarity?" reflects how the piece was composed by not needing an answer.[1]


The popularity of Dave Hollinden's multiple percussion solos has resulted in much anticipation for his new compositions. "what clarity?," Hollinden's recent concerto for percussion, was worth the wait. The work is scored for standard orchestra with double winds, strings, timpani and one percussionist.

The first of the two major sections features the soloist on snare drum; the second utilizes a multiple percussion set. In the first part, Hollinden explores and develops many of the subtleties of the snare drum, including various playing areas of the drum, rimshots and playing on the rim. The snare drum solo is very challenging with quick dynamic changes, frequent embellishments and tricky subdivision shifts. This section gradually becomes more dense and builds to an explosive climax before the percussionist moves to the multiple percussion setup, which consists of six tom-toms, two bell plates, metal pipe, Tibetan prayer bowl and Tibetan prayer cymbal, along with other standard instruments.

The second section begins at an extremely slow tempo (quarter note = 32) and has much room for artistic expression. Frequent dynamic changes and prescribed accelerandos and ritardandos predominate. Through colorful orchestration and many complex meter changes, the work grows more playful and the tempo gradually increases toward the percussion cadenza, which is totally improvised. The work concludes with five explosive notes by tutti orchestra and percussion soloist.

Hollinden's new work is very creative and will likely become very popular with collegiate and professional percussionists with its driving rhythms, interesting hemiola and frequent dynamic changes. The orchestral scoring is similarly difficult, which will provide a challenge in synchronizing the two parts.

Reviewed by: Scott Herring Review originally published: April 2003, Percussive Notes magazine.[2]



Commercial Discography

Recent Performances

Andrew Spencer/soloist, conducted by Dr. Paul-Elliott Cobbs, with the Tacoma Youth Symphony on May 18, 2002 and with the Central Washington University Orchestra on May 30, 2002. Premiere
Tomm Roland, Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Christopher Stanichar, University of Nebraska, May 2, 2004.
Daniel Smithiger, Doctoral Lecture Recital (soloist w/piano), University of Arizona, February 20, 2004.

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

A Different Drummer - Multiple Percussion
Alchemy - Percussion Duo
Boundary Conditions - Multiple Percussion; String Quartet
Cold Pressed - Multiple Percussion
Dusting the Connecting Link - Multiple Percussion
Flux - Marimba; Flute; Clarinet; Alto Saxophone
Immersion - Percussion Quartet; Saxophone Quartet
In Time to Come - Marimba; Alto Saxophone
Lead - Multiple Percussion; Piano
Of Wind and Water - Marimba
Percussion Quartet No. 2 (Hollinden) - Percussion Quartet
Platinum - Multiple Percussion; Piano
Reckless - Percussion Octet
Release (Hollinden) - Percussion Octet
Six Ideas for Snare, Bass, and Cymbal - Multiple Percussion
Slender Beams of Solid Rhythm - Multiple Percussion
Surface Tension - Percussion Duo
The Whole Toy Laid Down - Percussion Quartet
what clarity? (with perc. ens. version) - Multiple Percussion; Percussion Ensemble (12)
what clarity? (with strings version) - Multiple Percussion; Orchestra

Additional Resources