Third Coast Percussion, a grammy nominated composing quartet of classically trained percussionists, preformed at The University of Notre Dame on Saturday, February 4th. I attended the concert at the Leighton Concert Hall at The DeBartolo Preforming Arts Center. The mesmerizing storm of sound that four artists conjured reverberated off the walls of the concert hall and held me in a trance. Working together in clockwork choreography, Third Coast Percussion creates a musical narrative that exploits the ability to make sound, with just about anything.
The stage was set with instruments, from xylophones, triangles, and gongs to a corrugaphone (a ribbed plastic tube that you spin in the air) and a rock spinning in a bowl. The absolute mastery of sound reverberated through each piece, proving the incredible skill that these four artists posses. The range of tempo and rhythm that Third Coast Percussion orchestrated blew me away, and inspired me to understand how they created such beautiful music.
Serving as the ensemble in-residence at the DeBartolo Preforming Arts Center since 2012, Third Coast Percussion has worked extensively with the engineering department at Notre Dame to create their unique sound. It resonated through the music as they played their recently commissioned piece, “Reaction Yield” which embodies the processes of chemical synthesis. The piece took the listener on a musical journey that filled the airwaves with the sounds of chemical change; it was the fantasia of alchemy, for your ears.
The vibraphone was first manufactured by the Leedy Company in 1921 and was made out of casted steel. In 1927 the design was improved upon by J. C. Deagan Inc. when they used aluminum instead of steel. The sound became more mellow and a foot damper was introduced to give the artist more control of the instrument. The bars are casted in different sizes to produce different pitch or tone and have been manufactured to match a note.
I began to wonder as I heard the music how the production of all these instruments have shaped the development of metal foundry. I also began to wonder how I, as an artist, can learn from the development of instruments and sound to shape my own work. Will my next sculpture be interactive? Will is use sound or the representation of sound to convey its meaning? How can I use percussion to influence my sculpture work? I can say that I was positively influenced by the music of Third Coast Percussion and will continue to listen to their work. I look forward to exploring my own work through their music.