Anthea's Garden - percussion duo - score
Anthea's Garden - percussion duo - score
PDF of sheet music (A4 page size)
Duration: 20 min / 25 min with text
This sheet music is intended to accompany the Anthea’s Garden illustrated children’s book ISBN: 9780994444400, published by Katherine Rawlings 2015.
The Illustrated children's book is available for purchase here.
Anthea’s Garden contains six sections of text/narration and five movements of music. These sections/movements should be performed in the following order:
Runaway Pot Plant
The Fairy Dance
Each movement may be performed on its own or as a collection and with or without text. When performed as a collection-with-text it is recommended that the text be read by a third performer/narrator. This allows for greater smoothness when transitioning from movement to movement and allows time for the percussionists to reposition sheet music where needed. If a movement/section of the piece is being performed in isolation however, the use of an additional performer/narrator is not necessary.
Asleep for glockenspiel, vibraphone and marimba
It is recommended that the pedal be weighed down, as the pedal is required to be down for the duration of the movement. The movement should be played slowly with a lot of rhythmic freedom to convey a sleepy dream like feeling. The length of pause marks can be exaggerated.
- Percussion I
o Glockenspiel: soft plastic mallets for a warm sound
o Vibraphone I: soft wool mallets for a blurry sound
- Percussion II
o Vibraphone II:
§ double bass bow
§ medium soft mallet for the single note at the end of the vibraphone section.
o Marimba: very soft wool mallets for an organ like sound.
Runaway Pot Plant for five-octave marimba
This movement was written to accommodate two performers playing on one five-octave marimba. It should be played at a steady, moderately fast tempo. The rit. in bar 52 – 53 and the pause marking in bar 53 can be exaggerated.
- Marimba I: medium hard wool mallets.
- Marimba II: medium soft wool mallets.
The sounds of the two players should blend.
The Fairy Dance for glockenspiel and vibraphone
It is recommended that the pedal be weighed down, as it is required to be down for the duration of the movement. It is to be played at a steady, moderately slow tempo. A slow motor may be used in the last three bars of the music.
- Vibraphone I and Glockenspiel
o Vibraphone I: hard yarn mallets
o Glockenspiel: hard plastic
- Vibraphone II: medium soft yarn mallets.
Mallets should create a clear, resonant sound.
Insects for five-octave marimba
This movement was written to accommodate two performers playing on one five-octave marimba. While the movement is relatively fast in tempo, performers should be careful to begin the piece at a strict and steady tempo, so that the music does not become too difficult to play later in the movement, when faster passages are introduced. This movement is intended to be somewhat comical. For this reason, it is important to exaggerate tempo changes and pause markings. From bar 106 to the end of the movement, performers have the option of playing as fast as possible, as long as this does not compromise the integrity of the music.
- Marimba I: two-tone mallets for a slightly biting sound in the upper register and a warm sound in the lower register bass clef passage around bar 78.
- Marimba II: medium mallets.
Asleep II for glockenspiel, vibraphone and marimba
Asleep and Asleep II are identical pieces of music. In Asleep II however, percussion I has the option of improvising based on themes that occurred in movements 2, 3 and 4. Please refer to Asleep above for further performance directions.
Anthea's Garden is a tribute to Anthea McKie (1980 - 2003) a close friend and fellow artist. I had intended to ask her to create illustrations for a composition I was working on, when I learned of her unexpected passing. The themes explored in the music became a reflection of my memory of Anthea herself. Her interests and things that she loved inspired the creation of Anthea's Garden.
Anthea's Garden is the story of a little girl who has a series of dreamlike, magical adventures. She has shrunk to the size of a mouse and explores her garden where she finds a runaway pot plant, her giant cat, fairies dancing, and a parade of insects. Set in a suburban backyard in Melbourne, the story encapsulates the magic of childhood through the power of the imagination and children's instinctive fascination with nature.
The Anthea's Garden project first began over ten years ago (in 2003) when I was commissioned by Carmen Chan to write a solo percussion piece for her Master's recital. The theme for her recital was 'children's games', so the piece needed to appeal to children. Carmen was my neighbour at the time, and she could hear me composing the piece through the open windows. I remember, with some amusement, her yelling through the windows, 'Is it going to be that fast?' and me yelling back, 'You said you wanted difficult!'. As I was working on this music, I could see that the structure was taking shape as a series of movements that could be tied together into a kind of children's story. The story could primarily be told with music but I liked the idea of using illustrations to help convey what was happening in the music.
One of my best friends from school was an artist who had expressed interest in illustrating children's stories. I was really excited at the prospect of collaborating with her on this project, but when I called her up to ask her if she'd like to work on the project with me, her sister answered the phone. My artist friend Anthea had just passed away in a tragic drowning accident. This was the first and most profound loss I had experienced in my life. From the time I learned of Anthea's death, the piece evolved into a personal tribute.
My memory of Anthea and the things that she loved - cats, fairies, insects, and a sunflower pot plant - gradually etched out the foundations around which the music and story of Anthea's Garden took shape. I found another artist, Kelly Hobbs, to illustrate a few black and white pencil drawings to go with the music, and the work was performed at Carmen's recital as planned on 12 June 2003. Following this performance, perhaps due to its level of difficulty, I was unable to interest other percussionists in performing the piece, and so I shelved the work indefinitely to focus on other projects.
Over ten years later, in 2014, Carmen suggested I arrange Anthea’s Garden for two players instead of one, to reduce its level of difficulty and to make it more accessible to performers. As I'd been dealing with having a baby, serious family illness, and moving to and living in Hong Kong, I had not written anything substantial for around two years. I had, to a large degree, replaced my composition work with teaching as a means of securing an income. Teaching music was something I loved immensely and I wasn't sure whether writing music was something I still wanted to do, but Carmen's idea intrigued me, and I was curious to find out what would happen.
I took Anthea's Garden back off the shelf and began to arrange the music for percussion duo. The inclusion of another performer opened up a whole new range of compositional possibilities that had previously been impractical, and I couldn't resist the temptation of significantly rewriting the music. But it didn't end there. This small suggestion to arrange Anthea's Garden marked the beginning of what evolved into a major two-year project to transform this new edition of music into a children's book, with words and illustrations to accompany the music, and if all went well, an iBook.
With this idea in mind, I needed to find an author, illustrator, performers, sound engineer, graphic designer and some kind of funding for the project. As I was living in Hong Kong, much of this needed to be done by email, and finding the right people for the project was a slow and sometimes difficult process. I've found that being successful as an artist often necessitates being multi-talented and versatile, and this is certainly true of the artists I ended up working with on the Anthea's Garden book project.
I had worked with Ailsa Wild back in 2006 when she performed as a circus acrobat for my Sydney-Melbourne concert tour Lucid Dreaming. Apparently circus performing was only one of many of Ailsa's artistic endeavours. Ailsa had since then authored a number of successful children's books - she was perfect for the project. Equally versatile, Simon Howe was not only able to fill the role of illustrator and graphic designer, but also film editor for our crowd funding video. I had seen Collision Theory perform a number of times before and was so excited that they were available to perform for the book's recording and the live performance of the work, but I still wasn't prepared for being completely blown away by how awesome the music sounded on the large and resonant vibraphone, marimba and glockenspiel.
I have collaborated a number of times before on other people's projects and some were definitely more successful collaborations than others. For this book project I felt that the best artistic result would be achieved by relinquishing ownership of the work and sharing it equally with my collaborators, and so I gave Ailsa and Simon my music and story outline and encouraged them to contribute their own ideas, inspiration and artistic style. I wanted to see what could be achieved by putting complete trust in their artistic ability and expertise. This freedom to make the work their own was incredibly exciting as I was always being surprised by their unique creative interpretation and the end product was far more beautiful than I ever imagined it could be.
There have been plenty of things that haven't gone the way I expected or would have liked. I wasn’t able to secure funding for the project, despite spending weeks on a number of grant applications. There were a couple of people I approached to fill different roles that didn't end up working out. Sometimes things that didn't work out ended up making room for opportunities that were unexpectedly much more preferable, so I've learned that a setback is not always a bad thing. It helps to be flexible, let go of the reigns and let the work create itself. I've also come to appreciate how much more can be achieved by collaborating with other artists.
One reason for the success of this collaboration has come from combining the different artistic disciplines and their networks. Through Ailsa's networks we were able to secure a venue for a live performance and an illustrator. Through my networks, we were able to secure performers and a recording person (Frank Pearce). Our illustrator Simon also put his hand up for the graphic designer role, and we are now in the final stages of completing the Anthea's Garden illustrated children's book with music.
In recent years I have seen mentioned multiple times the idea that great work is achieved through the collaboration of many minds. In putting this idea into practice, I have repeatedly been encouraged by the results of my collaborations with other artists. These benefits of collaboration are most certainly evident in Anthea's Garden.
This percussion duo edition of Anthea’s Garden was completed in May 2014 and first performed and recorded by Collision Theory: Arwen Johnston and Amy Valent Curlis with narration by Ailsa Wild. The first live performance (also with these performers) was part of the La Mama for Kids program and performed at La Mama Courthouse, Carlton, on the 31st of October 2015, with images from the children’s book by Simon Howe projected on screen during the performance.
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