The Lost Bicycle, released in May 2010, features original stories from Percussive Storytelling. The CD itself is organized like a trip to the theatre. It consists of a prelude, three acts of two stories each, two fun-filled intermezzos, and a postlude. The Lost Bicycle has been awarded a gold medal by the NAPPA Parenting Awards, a silver medal by the Parent’s Choice Foundation, World Storytelling Honors, and a Preferred Choice by Creative Child Magazine. In addition, NAPPA named it a best value and one of 13 top children’s products for 2010.
NJOVU Njovu is an adapted version of How the Elephant Got its Long Trunk by Rudyard Kipling from his famous Just So Stories. It is a very silly story that uses a complex compositional process, setting base pairs of DNA (A, G, C, T) and their complements in retrogradable and inversional symmetry among other more painstaking measures. This piece was commissioned by the Biodiversity Institute and the Hall Center for the Humanities of the University of Kansas, and is dedicated to interdisciplinary arts collaboration.
TIKKI TIKKI TEMBO Arlene Mosel’s classic retelling of this Chinese folktale had me in stitches as a kid. I mean, seriously, who names their child Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo? Later in life, I have come to enjoy the inherent rhythmic qualities in the name and the rest of the story.
THE LOST BICYCLE The original. The Lost Bicycle began as a series of improvisations for more avant-garde percussion works until I noticed a particular motif between blocks and cowbells that sounded like a bicycle. In a fit that was half inspiration and half perspiration, I penned the story for The Lost Bicycle, and the musical composition quickly followed. Particularly strong in its use of leitmotifs, this story is largely responsible for the growth and development of Percussive Storytelling. Without it, and subsequent grants and awards, I would have had neither the time nor the notion to write and compose more stories. Plus, each time I perform it, I get to see how long I can hold my breath.
PHONETIC PUNCTUATION This piece pays homage to the life and career of world-renowned pianist and entertainer Victor Borge; specifically a routine of his called Phonetic Punctuation. In this routine, Borge would read a story and phonetically sound out the punctuation marks as they occurred, creating a hilariously awkward reading. In this version, I assign different percussion instruments to the various punctuation markings. I believe the ellipses are my favorite…
THE TURNIP Based on an old Russian folk tale retold by Alexei Tolstoy, The Turnip tells how even the big and strong need the help of the small. Musically, The Turnip lends itself perfectly to musical rendering. As each character is added to the mix, from the old man to the old woman to the grandson to the dog to the cat to the mouse, an additive rhythmic process is added as well, creating a chaotic atmosphere as more characters attempt to pull the turnip up.
PONDEROSA PINE Ponderosa Pine was commissioned by the National Parks Service while I was Artist-in-Residence at Rocky Mountain National Park in July 2008. After an amazing two-week stay in the park, I wrote a story about the natural environment, which only seemed fitting after witnessing such stunning natural sights. In reference to my metaphorical tree, all sounds in the piece are wooden. And without standing on a soapbox, here’s to each of us taking care of our own ponderosa pine.