John Psathas

One Study One Summary

Number of percussion players: 1

Total number of players: 1

Instrumentation: Marimba, with Junk Perc. and Digital Audio

Approximate time: 8 min.


‘This two-movement work for solo percussionist is written for marimba, junk percussion and digital audio. The junk percussion includes such things as frying pans, metallic objects, salad bowls, a variety of cymbals and gongs, etc. The work requires a 5.0-octave instrument. One Study is very toccata-like with changing meters and quick dynamic contrasts, and requires a firm mastery of contemporary four-mallet techniques. One Summary is slower, more contemplative in nature, and exploits the more sonorous side of the marimba by using “super soft” and “soft” mallets at mp and p dynamic levels.

The junk percussion part in One Study is very interesting. It is carefully notated on what some refer to as a “timber staff” or “adapted keyboard notation.” It may be played live by several other percussionists using the specified instruments or “an alternative battery of instruments.” To this end, the audio CD includes short sound samples of each instrument to aid in finding appropriate alternatives. The third performance option is to use the digital audio that incorporates the recorded junk percussion sounds. In addition to the various audio tracks (with and without junk percussion), the CD also contains a reference mix of One Study One Summary, with both digital audio parts and a synthesized version of the performer’s part. This would definitely be an exciting addition to any program regardless of the format chosen.’


John Baldwin, Percussive Notes, August, September 2009.


Annotated by Nicholas White