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percussion quartet (2004)

Live Recording—12.14.04
Percussions de Barcelona


1 marimba (4-octave)
1 vibraphone
1 5-octave marimba (two players)


Duration: 16 minutes
Commissioned by: Percussions de Barcelona with support from The American Music Center Composer Assistance Program
Premiere: December 14, 2004
Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, Spain


Score + Parts — $65

Score + Parts — $90 (includes shipping)

Digital performance materials will be emailed within 1-3 business days.
Print versions will be sent via USPS within 14 business days.

program note

Coyote was commissioned by Percussions de Barcelona, with additional support from the American Music Center Composer Assistance Program. It is scored for four players—one on marimba, one on vibraphone, and two on bass marimba. The piece consists of five movements bearing the following titles:

1. openings
2. filigree
3. intensities
4. ecstatic
5. tumble

The composition is constructed from a small amount of musical material built into several short intertwining rhythmic phrases. These phrases appear and reappear throughout the piece, always placed within a different framework. At times the music flashes through a series of these rhythmic blocks, while in other instances, it travels through a slow building up or tearing down of a phrase.

While working on this music, I was reading Indigenous American tales about the Coyote. Traditionally, the Coyote is characterized as a trickster or prankster, often appearing when life becomes too serious. He creates elaborate plans to achieve goals that often backfire or take humorous unexpected turns. Some Coyote stories about how to behave by showing what NOT to do! In a few stories, it is Coyote who places the stars in the sky and creates the constellations. I am particularly interested in this aspect of Coyote; his artistic side, painting animals and legends with stars. Sometimes he is instructed to do so, or sometimes he takes the task upon himself, but in either situation, he completes the process by flinging his bag of leftover stars into the sky. Coyote’s playfulness and creative spirit—the surprising twists and turns that carefully made plans often take—are expressed in the music.

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