Title: Variations for Solo Kettledrums

Author: Jan Williams

Description: Variations for Solo Kettledrums is a intermediate-advanced piece for solo timpani. The composer started with a row of twelve notes, on which the theme and each of the five variations is based upon in some form (inversion, transposition, retrograde or retrograde-inversion). Thus, the theme and the variations often have very little rhythmically connecting them, only this pitch series binds them. The theme is straightforward with the exception of the time signature 6/6, which just indicates a metric modulation where quarter note triplets become the quarter note beat.

Variation 1 is a perpetual motion movement that is continually interupted by fermatas. This gives the impression of someone talking and continually being interrupted. Variation 2 is a slow dirge requiring four mallets. Variation 3 is a short, quickly paced movement in 6/8 somewhat in the style of a Beethoven scherzo. This variation is to be played with the back end of rattan mallets. Variation 4 is marked “Tense – Agitated” and contains great dynamic swings as well as many short loud jagged passages. Variation 5 functions as a coda of the previous variations bringing back some elements of the theme and first variation especially.


Annotated by Greg Simonds