Monobot, the debut solo recording from percussionist Dan Piccolo, demonstrates the wide variety of solo percussion music. The album features pieces written for different configurations of percussion instruments, three of which are premiere recordings. The selections include canonic works alongside more recent compositions and provide a musical journey that ranges from the ethereal to the mechanical, celebrating the natural world in unique ways.
Item Number: EQ155
Year Recorded: 2020
Monobot: Music for Solo Percussion
Percussionist Dan Piccolo has performed, taught, and studied internationally during his twenty-year professional career. He is currently Assistant Professor of Percussion in Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts.
Dan holds both a DMA and BM in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and during his Master’s studies in U of M’s Jazz Department, he focused on improvisation. He has studied concert percussion with Michael Udow, Salvatore Rabbio, Joseph Gramley, and Jonathan Ovalle, among others, and his drum set and improvisation teachers have included Michael Gould, Steve Curry, and Ed Sarath. Dan is also skilled in several forms of non-Western percussion, having studied frame drumming with Jamey Haddad and tabla with Pandit Kuber Nath Mishra in multiple visits to Varanasi, India. A grant from the University of Michigan’s International Institute funded the first of these visits, and he returned to Varanasi in the winter of 2015 thanks to an award from the Presser Foundation. An additional award from U of M’s International Institute made it possible for Dan to begin formal studies of West African music in Ghana in the summer of 2014. From 2014 to 2019 Dan served as a member of the Percussive Arts Society’s World Percussion Committee, and he currently serves as Associate Editor for Professional Development for the Society’s journal, Percussive Notes.
Dan’s debut solo recording, Monobot, was released on the Equilibrium Recordings label in December 2020. In October 2019 Dan gave the world premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s concerto for drum set and wind ensemble, Impulse Control, which written was written for Dan and for which he led the commissioning consortium. Dan has also premiered works by Emma O’Halloran, Jonathan Ovalle, Payton MacDonald, and Anthony Di Sanza, as well as his own compositions, and he continues to actively work with composers to commission new solo and ensemble works for percussion.
Dan has appeared as a soloist with groups including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, and as a guest artist at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. As a chamber musician, he has enjoyed collaborations with notable artists including composer/pianist Harold Budd, percussionists Ji Hye Jung and Joseph Gramley, the arx duo, Third Coast Percussion, pianist Sonya Belaya, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. Dan also remains active as a jazz drummer, working with musicians such as John Scofield, Regina Carter, Mike Stern, and Stanley Cowell. For six years Dan was the drummer with Nomo, with whom he toured internationally and recorded three albums for Ubiquity Records. Dan has also toured and recorded as a member of Cloud Nine Music, The Ragbirds, His Name is Alive, and others. Dan continues to perform regularly with symphony orchestras, rock bands, Indian classical music ensembles, jazz groups, and in various chamber music configurations. This busy performance schedule has earned him invitations to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the annual conference of the International Society for Improvised Music. He is currently a member of the X4 Percussion Quartet, Ensemble Duniya, Big Fun, and is the percussionist with the Mirabai Women’s Choir.
In addition to his busy professional schedule, Dan is a dynamic educator, teaching a broad range of percussion instruments in private and classroom settings. He has presented workshops and masterclasses at universities throughout the United States and has twice been selected as a clinician at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. Dan spent six years as the coordinator of the percussion program at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School, during which time the school was twice named a Grammy Signature School. In 2016 Dan was appointed Assistant Professor of Percussion in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Prior to this appointment, Dan was Assistant Director of Percussion at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and he previously served as Head of the Percussion Area at New England Music Camp in Sidney, Maine.
Dan proudly endorses Cooperman Frame Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets, Pearl/Adams percussion instruments, and Remo drum heads.
Side by Side (notes from Dan Piccolo)
Side by Side, composed in 1989, is a staple of the multiple percussion literature. The piece explores contrasting pulse divisions, developing patterns that at first appear to conflict in a kind of rhythmic dissonance, but that ultimately resolve as the voices repeat until they once again align with one another.
Michio Kitazume (b. 1948) is director of the Japan Society for Contemporary Music, guest professor at the Tokyo College of Music, and emeritus professor at Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music. http://michiokitazume.com/
Rain Chain (notes from Dan Piccolo)
Kristin Kuster (b. 1973) teaches composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Her music has earned numerous awards from organizations including the Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Composers Orchestra, and she has received commissions from the Colorado Music Festival, the 6ixWire Project, the Lisbon Summer Fest Chamber Choir, and others. http://kristinkuster.com/
Andrea Mazzariello (b. 1978) composes concert music, music for film and visual art, and is also an active songwriter. He currently teaches composition, music technology, and music theory at Carleton College, and directs the composition program at the Sō Percussion Summer Institute. He completed a Ph.D. in Music Composition at Princeton University, an M.M. at the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in music and English at Williams College. https://www.andreamazzariello.com/
Woodpecker (notes from Dan Piccolo
Dutch composer Louis Andriessen (b. 1939) is known for his unique approach to minimalism, or “styleless-ness,” as he himself has described it. A common method in this approach is the creative re-framing of an otherwise ordinary object, be it a non-musical source or a fragment of another composer’s music. Andriessen has been on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of the Hague since 1973.
Woodpecker excellently illustrates the recontextualization of a “non-musical” source, as well as compositional techniques that are typical of the composer’s later works, such as a penchant for process, repetition, hocketed rhythms, stacked layers, and a dissonant tonality derived from a small amount of pitch material. The limited pitch vocabulary in Woodpecker is plainly seen in the pitched woodblocks and temple blocks, but is exaggerated in the marimba, which for most of the piece uses a noticeably restricted range of the available notes. More importantly, though, the piece exemplifies Andriessen’s tendency to adhere to some underlying conceptual principle, in this case the evocation of a familiar incidental sound from the natural world.
Though fiendishly difficult at times, Woodpecker remains playful and charming; Andriessen has said that the use of a commonplace object or subject in a work of art was “destined to have . . . a comical or poetic effect.”
Woodpecker was commissioned by the marimbist Nancy Zeltsman, to whom it is dedicated and who premiered the work at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Dallas, Texas in 2000.
Hekate (notes from composer)
Hekate is a Greek goddess associated with crossroads, gates, and liminal places in space and time. The moon, fire, herbs and poisonous plants, magic, witchcraft, angels, and ghosts are her dominion. She rules over earth, sea and sky, and accompanies the souls of the deceased to Hades, holding torches in her hands. In late antiquity, she was known as the Savior who embodied the Cosmic Soul.
The piece is written for Bendir (a special type of frame drum with snares), finger cymbal, and ankle bells. The frame drum is diachronically one of the oldest and most common instruments in the world. The sound of this simple instrument creates powerful emotions associated with shamanism, mysticism, rituals, ecstasy, healing, and femininity.
The piece showcases nocturnal and other field recordings captured by the composer over several years in Greece. The computer tracks the attack and the dynamics of the instruments and reacts by using various live processing techniques, which include multiple delays, phase vocoding, live sampling, frequency shifting, and harmonization, among others.
Hekate is commissioned by and dedicated to Patti Cudd.
Konstantinos Karathanasis (b. 1975) is an electroacoustic composer who draws inspiration from modern poetry, artistic cinema, abstract painting, mysticism, Greek mythology, and the writings of Carl G. Jung and Joseph Campbell. He holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University at Buffalo and is currently an Associate Professor of Composition & Music Technology at the University of Oklahoma. http://www.karathanasis.org/
Item Number: EQ155
Year Recorded: 2020
Recording Engineer: David Schall (www.daveschallacoustic.com)