Boas, Franziska- Changing Tensions, for percussion quartet (Digital Download)

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Includes score and parts.

Print size: Letter (8.5 x 11") 

Review from Percussive Notes:

This percussion quartet was written in 1939 and premiered by the Cage Percussion players alongside works by Johanna Beyer, John Cage, Lou Harrison, and William Russell. To say that this piece is historically important is an understatement. Franziska Boas was an American dancer, educator, improviser, and composer. She is credited as one of the founders of dance therapy and founded the first interracial dance school.


This edition of “Changing Tensions” was resurrected by Ron Coulter, formerly a Lecturer of Percussion at Southern Illinois Carbondale. Professor Coulter has done a tremendous job in researching the historical context and facts, as well as the engraving of the score of this important piece. The engraving itself is simple, elegant, and very clear.


The piece itself is a wonderful example of early percussion and is indicative of the style of the time (1939). It does call for some interesting instrumentation, including an Italian gong, Burmese gong, and at least six gongs of unspecified origin. There is also a need for a small Chinese tom-tom played on both sides. The music makes use of rhythmic motives and some simpler polyrhythmic content.


“Changing Tensions” is an absolute must for any historical percussion ensemble programming, and there needs to be a copy in every university music library. Ron Coulter has done the percussion community a great service by bringing this piece back to life.

—Joe Millea

A recording of "Changing Tensions" is available on The Percussion Art Ensemble & S.I. Percussion Group, ORIGINS: Forgotten Percussion Works, Vol. 1, available for purchase here.