Percussion Century

Episodes

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Going solo2019012020190721 (R3)

Crash, bang, wallop?

No! Colin Currie suggests you think again as he embarks on a journey of sonic exploration. In this episode, percussion is truly set free as Colin chooses some of the most innovative, exquisite and powerful music written for percussion over the past century.

When thirteen percussionists lined up on stage in New York in 1933 to play Ionisation by Edgar Varèse, solo percussion music was firmly planted on the musical map. Composers and performers suddenly became aware of the huge expressive potential of a family of instruments that had previously been used primarily for rhythmic accompaniment and occasional sound effects.

In the decades that followed many more composers started writing for percussion ensembles and soloists, allowing musicians like Colin to thrive. He’ll be introducing a piece played on tuned metal pipes, music for huge multi-percussion set-ups, and the sound of one of the most beautiful and versatile of all percussion instruments, the marimba. Plus an entertaining solo from the jazz master Buddy Rich.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

Percussion comes of age. Colin Currie explores music for solo performers and ensembles.

Colin Currie hand picks some of the greatest percussion music of the past 100 years.

Hypnotic repetition2019012720190728 (R3)

Close your eyes, and enjoy an hour of percussive meditation.

If there is one area of music that percussion was absolutely made for, its minimalism. In this episode Colin Currie strips percussion right back to the bare essentials as he chooses music that revels in its own sounds, patterns, loops and melodies.

The powerful ability of percussion instruments to weave together multiple layers of sound leads to a playlist with works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison and the ‘godfather’ of minimalist music for percussion, Steve Reich, who has described Colin as “one of the greatest musicians in the world today”.

Steve Reich’s style was partly shaped by music he heard on trips around the world, and time studying with a Ghanaian drumming master, and Colin also includes some mesmerising traditional sounds with roots in Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Colin himself is one of the world’s leading interpreters of the music of Steve Reich so he starts and ends with two of Reich’s most brilliant and celebrated pieces: Music for 18 Musicians and Drumming.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

Colin Currie presents percussion\u2019s reflective and contemplative side.

Colin Currie hand picks some of the greatest percussion music of the past 100 years.

01Multicoloured2019011320190714 (R3)

Brash, visceral, thrilling, terrifying. Ethereal, delicate, exquisite, meditative.

Colin Currie presents a celebration of a musical family that spans the sonic spectrum in a unique and almost limitless fashion: percussion.

Colin has been called “one of the greatest musicians in the world today” by none other than Steve Reich, who knows a thing or two about percussion, and in this, the first of three episodes, Colin introduces a taste of the huge array of colours and sounds that the percussion family can conjure up.

Over the past century the percussion section has been freed from its previous role as rhythmic accompaniment and occasional sound effect, and has taken centre stage in an explosion of music written for solo percussion, percussion ensembles, chamber groups and orchestras.

In this episode, music by Messiaen, Britten and Stravinsky sits alongside tracks by Bjork, John Williams and Manu Delago. And instruments dating back hundreds of years mix with new instruments from the 21st century creating beautiful, surprising and unexpected aural delights.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

Colin Currie hand picks some of the greatest percussion music of the past 100 years

02Going Solo2019012020190721 (R3)

Crash, bang, wallop?

No! Colin Currie suggests you think again as he embarks on a journey of sonic exploration. In this episode, percussion is truly set free as Colin chooses some of the most innovative, exquisite and powerful music written for percussion over the past century.

When thirteen percussionists lined up on stage in New York in 1933 to play Ionisation by Edgar Varèse, solo percussion music was firmly planted on the musical map. Composers and performers suddenly became aware of the huge expressive potential of a family of instruments that had previously been used primarily for rhythmic accompaniment and occasional sound effects.

In the decades that followed many more composers started writing for percussion ensembles and soloists, allowing musicians like Colin to thrive. He’ll be introducing a piece played on tuned metal pipes, music for huge multi-percussion set-ups, and the sound of one of the most beautiful and versatile of all percussion instruments, the marimba. Plus an entertaining solo from the jazz master Buddy Rich.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

Percussion comes of age. Colin Currie explores music for solo performers and ensembles.

Colin Currie hand picks some of the greatest percussion music of the past 100 years.

03 LASTHypnotic Repetition2019012720190728 (R3)

Close your eyes, and enjoy an hour of percussive meditation.

If there is one area of music that percussion was absolutely made for, it’s minimalism. In this episode Colin Currie strips percussion right back to the bare essentials as he chooses music that revels in its own sounds, patterns, loops and melodies.

The powerful ability of percussion instruments to weave together multiple layers of sound leads to a playlist with works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison and the ‘godfather’ of minimalist music for percussion, Steve Reich, who has described Colin as “one of the greatest musicians in the world today”.

Steve Reich’s style was partly shaped by music he heard on trips around the world, and time studying with a Ghanaian drumming master, and Colin also includes some mesmerising traditional sounds with roots in Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Colin himself is one of the world’s leading interpreters of the music of Steve Reich so he starts and ends with two of Reich’s most brilliant and celebrated pieces: Music for 18 Musicians and Drumming.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

Colin Currie presents percussion's reflective and contemplative side.

Colin Currie hand picks some of the greatest percussion music of the past 100 years.

If there is one area of music that percussion was absolutely made for, its minimalism. In this episode Colin Currie strips percussion right back to the bare essentials as he chooses music that revels in its own sounds, patterns, loops and melodies.

The powerful ability of percussion instruments to weave together multiple layers of sound leads to a playlist with works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison and the ‘godfather’ of minimalist music for percussion, Steve Reich, who has described Colin as “one of the greatest musicians in the world today”.

Steve Reich’s style was partly shaped by music he heard on trips around the world, and time studying with a Ghanaian drumming master, and Colin also includes some mesmerising traditional sounds with roots in Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Colin himself is one of the world’s leading interpreters of the music of Steve Reich so he starts and ends with two of Reich’s most brilliant and celebrated pieces: Music for 18 Musicians and Drumming.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3