Jaltarang, for piano and vibraphone or any combination of keyboards and percussion instruments of definite pitch, includes 2 scores.
Print size: Letter (8.5 x 11")
Composed in 1983, Jaltarang, is the first of dozens of structured improvisations written for a wide variety of media. It was composed for percussionist Steven Schick and pianist James Avery, one of four works written for a McKnight, Composer Fellowship. It can be performed by vibraphone and piano or any combination of keyboards and mallet percussion (and, potentially, many other combinations of instruments of definite pitch). It has received numerous performances, notable among them those by the Maelstrom Percussion Quartet at New York’s Lincoln Center.
The work’s title is taken from the little-known mallet percussion instrument of classical Indian music, whose sound is somewhat reminiscent of the vibraphone. An extended period of travel throughout India in 1975 remains one of the most important inspirations in my musical life.
Jaltarang is comprised of 21 related pitch patterns. While these are generated from a single 12-tone row, they are order in a manner that allows a gradual motion from diatonic (and tonally centered on D) to chromatic and back again, as well as short-long-short, and soft-loud-soft. Improvisation is based on guided heterophonic variation on the patterns. Throughout the work’s performance history, players have chosen a wide range of improvisational liberty, from nearly verbatim readings of the patterns themselves, to a level of freedom approximating that of tonal mainstream jazz.