I have always marveled at the co-ordination and finesse required for even a simple drum roll, while a skilful performance on multiple percussion instruments defies the laws of both probability and physics.
In writing for a single percussionist I have always concentrated on producing independent rhythmic lines across several different instruments. In Defying Gravity I wanted to extend this approach so that these lines would appear not only within each part but also across the ensemble as a whole.
The choice of instrumentation in Defying Gravity helped to determine both the content and structure of the work. The first section uses only tuned tom toms, which are joined by timpani and anvils in the third, final, section. Marimba, entering in the centre of the work, brings with it a new sound world that it eventually dominates as one by one the players explore this delightful South American invention.
Defying Gravity was commissioned by the Sydney percussion ensemble Synergy, to whom it is dedicated. Financial support for this commission is acknowledged from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council.