“Most people think that percussion is the art of striking things, but it really is an art of positioning oneself for the strike. About a related genre Toshio Hosokawa once told me that the most poignant moment in Japanese calligraphy comes just before the pen lowers toward the paper. In other words expression comes not by making a mark but by positioning yourself to make a mark. The same is true with percussion: every quality of sound from loudness, to color, to intensity, to rhythmic accuracy is a property of preparing, not executing, a stroke.”
– percussionist, UCSD professor, and conductor Steven Schick.
This passage was part of Schick’s introduction in last night’s program from the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, an organization I subscribe to in support of their fabulous work performing contemporary classical music. These particular words stood out, and I received them not only from the perspective of a listener in the audience, but as a painter with a stick in his own hand. Schick performed the first work of the evening, Bone Alphabet (1992) by Brian Ferneyhough, a wonderful, palpable construction that oscillates the listener on their axis.