Last modified 31 July 2015
Watershed III (1995)
by Roger Reynolds
A watershed can have geographical, or quite personal meaning in the sense that decisive demarcation is conferred on a rather complex situation. The core of this work is an extended solo for an array that includes four families of instruments: the rigor of drums, a parodistic collection of so-called "oddities," organic and malleable metals, and a set of wooden drums with their clattering interjections. The piece is in two large sections, the first of which is dominated by the didactic logic of the drums. At the "watershed," the mood of the whole changes and the more intuitively flexible metals become central.
Since the sensuality of sound itself is such a signature feature of multiple-percussion music, and also since the circular setup requires the soloist almost to dance, I have enlisted real-time computer processing to project the soloist's sound world out so as to embrace the audience, allowing it too to enter into this musical experience in an uncommon way.
The ensemble, in Watershed III, acts as an ally, supporting, framing, responding to the soloist, but never in a confrontational spirit. This work is meant as an integrative journey, using percussive resources in an orchestral fashion, where familial character helps to clarify and deepen implication.
My gratitude is extended to Steven Schick, Josef Kucera, Tim Labor, Peter Otto, and to Miller Puckette, my collaborators on the TRAnSiT project at UCSD. Watershed III was premiered by Steven Schick, TRAnSiT, and Music Mobile at the Loeb Center, Washington Square, New York City, on 30 October 1995, conducted by Bruno Ferrandis.
– Roger Reynolds, Del Mar, California, April 2008