Back in 2012, as I was starting the final year of my undergraduate degree at Western Connecticut State University, the percussion studio was given the task of writing a snare drum solo that would be judged by the school's composition faculty, percussion faculty, and a guest judge (who turned out to be Keith Aleo from the Zildjian Company).
I hadn't written many pieces at that point in my career, but I thought I'd give it a try. I wanted to create something that was different. I thought about creating a "prepared" snare piece, but that idea was squashed after a few hours of experimenting. I eventually settled on basing the piece on the concept of a "Palindrome". (A palindrome is a word or phrase that is the same forward and backwards. Example: "Race car," "Bob," "Never odd or even," etc.)
I wrote the piece to include 8 lines, which you read down like a normal piece of music, but when you get to the end, you dramatically turn the page upside down, and read backwards, finishing the piece just as you began.
While this piece isn't 100% mathematically a palindrome, the musical phrases repeat themselves in a way that gives the listener a sense of return as you replay the sections in reverse.
Heres a screenshot from the audio file. Notice the symmetry.
The biggest challenge of this work was the notation. I wanted a score that was as easy to read forwards as it was backwards. I consider myself to be pretty well versed in Sibelius, but after hours of experimenting, I decided to keep the score handwritten.
If you are a Sibelius or Finale master and want to take on the challenge of notating this work on a computer, PLEASE contact me.
Click the image to download PDF file.
If you would like to perform this piece, do not perform memorized, as the sheet music is part of the performance.
I apologize for the messy handwriting and notation, again contact me if you are a sibelius wiz!
Updates from music educator and composer, Matthew Curley.