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date: 19 November 2019

Loops consolelocked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

A multiple percussion instrument invented and constructed by the American percussionist and composer Ron(ald M.) George (b Escondido, CA, 1937; d Los Angeles, 2006) at the Center for Music Experiment of the University of California at San Diego. Developed in collaboration with the composer Robert Erickson, it was intended for Erickson’s composition Percussion Loops (1973) and was designed to bring a large number of instruments within easy reach of the performer. Originally constructed in 1973, it was modified several times and can be adapted for performances of other works.

The ‘loops console’ consists of 36 conventional percussion instruments suspended from a frame or mounted on adjustable stands assembled from heavy metal tubing; within this ‘keyboard’ the instruments are arranged horizontally in seven families and vertically by pitch in five columns. There is a ‘pedalboard’ of three larger instruments – two gongs and a tam-tam – which are played by beaters attached to large levers operated by a hydraulic pedal system; a lever mechanism is also used to strike some of the smaller instruments, shake maracas, and scrape a güiro. A pedal controls the speed at which the score, notated on a scroll, moves across a horizontal track in front of the performer. The specially designed notation uses colour-coded note-heads, differently shaped for each of the seven families of instruments; the staff has five spaces, one for each of the five pitch groups....

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