Deep Carving was originally composed for the Third Coast Percussion Quartet in 2006. The piece is based on the carvings of the Northwest Coast First Nations people, especially that of the Haida. Carvings were typically featured on totem poles of course, but were very prominent on masks, canoes and boxes used for a variety of purposes. The carvings tended to use a small number of basic shapes that could be pulled, compressed, bent into new ones in order to take on the shape of a person or animal. These shapes appear to spill out toward the boundaries, fold back and spill out again in new configurations. Indeed, the boundary is an essential part of the art. A carving that is thought to be especially beautiful is said to be “deeply carved.” As the influx of Europeans continued into the Northwest in the 18th and 19th centuries, production of First Nations art declined. Some who continued to carve were forced to switch away from wood to new materials, especially precious metals. Today, however, First Nations art is a vibrant and thriving tradition.
Deep Carving takes small cells as its starting point and builds them up into larger shapes throughout, focusing mostly on instruments made of wood and skin, and some pitched metals. As the music progresses, unhitched metals in the form of cowbells and metal bars make their way into the texture. In addition, number games play a large part in the timings of phrases and sections, especially fibonacci numbers, and the number 9, as well as additive and subtractive processes. The instruments required are fairly few in number, partly at the request of the commissioning ensemble, and partly because a smaller setup is far more portable than a larger one. Deep Carving is dedicated with affection to the Third Coast Percussion Quartet.
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