Fitkin – Hook (1991)

● Four tom-toms (roto-toms or congas) ● Four marimbas
● Four kick drums

Duration: 8 minutes Commissioner’s Note:

Hook was commissioned by my group, ensemblebash, for our inaugural gig at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank in January 1992. We loved his style and felt his jaggedly rhythmic music would fit perfectly with what we were trying to do with ensemblebash.

This was typical Fitkin music – clean, lean, muscular and driving. At the opening, after four bars of loud, brutalist drumming, the four marimba players play a long complex rhythmical figure in unison. This is visually exciting as well – four pairs of arms moving in exactly the same way. From then on, ‘Hook’ is driven along by rototom semiquavers, pedal bass drum and a bubbling bassline.

Stretches of the music are written like computer sequenced keyboard parts but then broken up by a surprise bar or two – before the players can resume their angular riffing. Occasionally, there is an unexpected lurching key change which hangs around for a while before the music returns to where it came from.

Hook ends with the same material as the beginning. This time though it has the addition of thumping pedal bass drums and the clattering rototoms, tightening the piece even more. The splash cymbal also lunges and spits on unexpected semiquavers. It ends suddenly – as if it’s a machine that’s suddenly had its plug pulled out of the wall.

-Stephen Hiscock

Annotated by Joanna Chen