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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Drones, Variations, Ornaments (2011)
Commissioned by Crash Ensemble
Work Notes
Vibraphone (with bow) Tubular Bells Bass Drum Suspended Cymbal (The suspended cymbal should be overturned on a towel, filled with lengths of chain, coins, and assorted metal objects. When struck, the effect should be of glass shattering.) Large Tam-tam (The tam-tam should be suspended normally on a rack, with lengths of chain, coins, metal beads, etc., suspended in front of it. When struck, the effect should be a long tam-tam stroke shimmering with a metallic halo. Think Jacob Marley’s ghost in China. It may help, particularly in the last section, to affix the beater to the instrument’s rack as well.)
St. Rose Music Publishing
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Sub Category
Year Composed
14 Minutes

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Programme Note
Nico Muhly Drones, Variations, Ornaments (2011)
First performance:
November 25, 2011
Crash Ensemble
Liberty Hall, Dublin

Drones, Variations, Ornaments is music in constant transformation. What begins as a simple, cloud-like sequence of string chords with a trombone melody slowly transforms into an agitated perpetual motion machine of winds, guitar, percussion, and piano. The machine spits out an incessant syncopated drone on middle-C, over which a fragment of a melody in the violin and trombone slowly turns into something more dangerous. The sound of breaking glass and assorted violent string pluckings slowly ushers in a decadent, syrupy melting texture in the strings, who accompany an alto flute solo. The piece ends in a suspended crystalline structure with a cello & trombone duet.

Nico Muhly

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