Michael Gordon – Timber


To some, waves on the shore, leaves from a tree, flames in a fire all look the same.
Others can stare at this fractal beauty and find Zen-like peacefulness in the fact that this ‘sameness’ is just an illusion, because every single detail is different – and no single detail ever occurs twice.

Michael Gordon‘s Timber” may achieve the same effect in sound.

Timber” is scored for six “wooden 2x4s, each cut into different sizes, giving each one a slightly different pitch.”
Called a “simantra“, this percussion instrument was first devised by composer Iannis Xenakis.

The work is somewhat reminiscent of Steve Reich‘s ‘phase shifting’ compositions, yet it is quite different in form.
As Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon says: “I wanted to clear my mind of pitches and orchestration. For that reason, I decided early on that Timber would be for non-tuned percussion and that each percussionist would play one instrument only. I imagined that the six instruments would go from high to low, and that, through a shifting of dynamics from one instrument to the next, the group could make seamless and unified ascending and descending patterns.”

Slagwerk Den Haag, the percussion ensemble that commisioned this work, does a remarkably disciplined job in this work – that is obviously a LOT more difficult to play than it is to listen to.

The immersive polyrhythmic structures are quite overwhelming yet calming at the same time – like the fractal images of water, leaves, flames can be.

The package of this beautiful work cannot be left unnoticed. Timber” comes in a beautiful wooden case, which is easily one of the most beautiful from my entire collection.
If you thought about downloading the digital version or streaming it from Spotify, look again!

It is available from the Slagwerk Den Haag website, or from Cantaloupe Music.

Slagwerk den Haag: Michael Gordon – Timber


Spotify– (Also on Spotify)

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