This post was originally published in 2012. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
To be honest, up until the last minute I really didn't know which special form of percussive art awaited me this evening. The program read, „Cycle Percussion Berlin,“ with artists Mario Würzebesser, Julius Heise, Raphael Meinhart under the direction of Shengnan Hu.
Tones from Tin Cans
For thousands of years, mankind has used countless objects to create music and sounds in rituals and for communication. In this concert, unique and artful compositions were brought to life. With the exception of a work by J.S. Bach, every work was written within the last hundred years. The works performed on this evening showed just how multifaceted this special instrumental genre really is. For this, a large spectrum of instruments was at the ready. I was right with my assumption that they would be using drums, cymbals, congas, bongos, rattles and claves for the evening, though I hadn't expected the vibraphone. The fact that it had its place on stage was a real musical enrichment. I was totally surprised when they started using cooking pots and tin cans, though. But what can I say, even these made for a unique sound experience.
Speaking of vibraphones, it had its debut during the 'Allegro' movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Italian Concerto, with a part originally written for harpsichord. It was a clear highlight of the evening for me. The names of the composers take some practicing to pronounce. An example? Iannis Xenakis. Even here, the motto of „practice, practice, practice“ applies.
Audience at Work
Luckily I was there on time to get a good seat in one of the front rows. That meant it was able to enjoy the visual component of the playing, which was not the case for all the seats. Over the projector system, they showed pictures of cities and landscapes in an endless loop. This enhanced the visual experience that came along with the musical performance.
At the end of the evening, the audience became part of the show. Everyone was prompted to clap in groups, so that a rhythmical cannon was created. The artists then improvised on top of this base rhythm by stomping, clapping and beating their chests.
SMA supports the Kasseler Musiktage. This is how the concert location came to be the Atrium in building 61. The location was the perfect backdrop for this innovative art form. A big round of applause is in order for all of the hard-working helpers. I really hope this event leads to others, especially in the form of acoustic concerts, comedy or poetry slam evenings.