For solo percussion The natural attractiveness of percussion instruments is enhanced by painting colorful target shapes on the drum head surfaces. This theatre piece uses mirrors and stage lighting to create unique, dramatic effects. Instrumentation: three triangles, two suspended cymbals, gong, brake drum, thundersheet, tambourine, snare, tenor and bass drums, two wood blocks, two wood boxes and four small tunable drums.
Duration: ca. 8-10 minutes.
Review from Percussive Notes (2021):
Designated “a theatre piece for solo percussion” by the composer, “Targets” is a fantastic work for players who love large, eclectic setups. Paul Steg provides a plethora of essential details including suggested stage arrangement and performance instructions, as well as instrument, equipment, and implement requirements. While the musical elements are manageable for an intermediate percussionist, effective execution of the piece requires a seasoned performer.
In addition to the massive instrument list, players need to acquire a number of miscellaneous objects and optional equipment. An oval mirror with a target on the back, a circular pinwheel with sleighbells, two toy guns, and various lighting choices are used throughout the piece and emphasized during the cadenza. The composer also encourages painting or taping the instruments with vibrant colors so that they look like targets, adding another visual element for the audience. The concept of targets is also utilized in a musical sense. Throughout the work, Steg marks certain notes with a bullseye symbol, indicating that those should be struck in the exact center.
When looking at the score itself, Steg has opted for straightforward notation and thoroughly descriptive phrases. This, coupled with the absence of tempo and time-signature indications, allows for more interpretation by the performer while satisfying the musical interests of the composer. There are sudden and dramatic dynamic shifts throughout the piece, as well as multiple implement changes.
One of the most unique aspects is the cadenza, found in the penultimate line of the work. The performer is instructed to improvise on all instruments, primarily striking their centers. As the cadenza escalates, the performer incorporates the mirror and pinwheel, shooting at their targets with the toy guns.
Overall, “Targets” is an interesting addition to the theatre percussion repertoire. Though the piece is only three pages in length, I would suggest performing the work memorized as it would positively impact the aesthetic of the work and multi-sensory experience for the audience.