Glass Works

A novelty percussion quartet where everything played (and everything spoken) is made of glass.

Mark Goodenberger, percussionist and composer, is the Director of Percussion Studies at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA.

Glass Works was commissioned in 1996 by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble for a performance at the Bullseye Glass Foundry. Goodenberger’s thought was to compose a piece fitting for that setting, therefore all of the instruments are made of glass. Carrying that concept further, Goodenberger wanted the music to imitate the four sounds that make up the title: “gla,” “ss,” “wor” and “ks.” This was done both vocally and through the timbres created by the chosen instruments.

Click below to listen to an audio recording of “Glass Works”

This unique percussion quartet was inspired by its premiere location: the Bullseye Glass Foundry in Portland, Oregon. Every part of the piece has to do with glass: each instrument is made of glass, and the performers also vocalize sounds of working with and breaking glass, imitating the syllables found in the piece’s title. While incorporating vocalization may be difficult for some players, most musical material consists of intermediate rhythms, achievable canonic passages, and relatively common syncopated patterns.

Clearly, Mark Goodenberger’s focus is on the fascinating and unusual soundscape. The challenge of locating and building the required instruments could be a good learning opportunity for those unfamiliar with avant-garde sounds and instruments. Instructors/group leaders should note that the players must break glass during the performance.

-Rebecca McDaniel, Percussive Notes, May 2019



Performance Type

3-5 Players