Drum of the Deathless (2016) 16'

Programme Note

This work for percussion quartet, inspired by the ritual drumming of a Korean monastic drummer, takes its cue from the famous lines of the Buddha:

"I beat the drum of the deathless in a world gone blind." These lines were spoken soon after his Enlightenment, as he went forth into the world to look for students to teach them the technique leading to enlightenment.

The work is due to have its premiere in Gwangju in 2016, at the enormous new cultural centre. When I visited it, I met a scholar and composer Ms Hyejin Yoon. Her lead question was: “What is the most important conception when you’re composing?” Perhaps it is worth quoting what I said to her, as it lies at the heart of this work:

“For me the most important thing is to consider what the music is about, from where it is coming, what am I trying to say or express or feel that is more than just the notes... it must come from something that is deep... something ritualistic, drawing on the relationship between the cosmos, nature and humanity. That is quite important to me, that the music has a sense of magic, the sense of something extraordinary. . . . it is always a journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”