Put on your thinking cap! This ten minute sonata-like etude demands total concentration and is scored for seven percussionists (I: 2 cowbells, II: 5 temple blocks, triangle, tam-tam; III: snare drum, suspended cymbal; IV: bongos, V: 4 concert toms; VI: 4 timpani, VII: bass drum).
The Etude opens in a driving 7/4 meter in unison rhythm. Therein lies the problem. Although numerous measures allow for rhythmic interplay between individual parts, sections of unison syncopated rhythms always return. As a group, no one can fake the rhythms if precise rhythmic execution is the goal.
The Adagio mid-section is based principally on thirty-second note motifs, both in duple and triple forms. The recapituation in 7/4 leads to an Allegro Vivo coda with eighth notes providing the underlying rhythm while unison syncopated rhythms are coupled with other rhythms to create a composite 12/8 rhythm. Again, counting is essential for precise execution. The closing juxtaposes a 4/4 rhyhtm over the constant eights of the 12/8 meter before the ensemble settles on the 12/8 motive for the exciting fortissimo finale. Mallet suggestions are given in the score but are not notated in the individual parts.
Rhythmic Etude No. 1 is an exciting work and will challenge even the most advanced percussion ensembles.
–Emery E. Alford, Percussive Notes, Fall 1986