Dave Hollinden
Recordings: Slender Beams
Slender Beams CD graphic Percussion music by Dave Hollinden
Performed by Andrew Spencer.

Available from Amazon, Gagliano Recordings,
and Steve Weiss Music

Slender Beams of Solid Rhythm (15:24)
Of Wind and Water (9:29)
Dusting the Connecting Link (27:53)
Release (15:37)

This is a definitive recording, produced and edited by the composer, representing eight years of collaboration between Hollinden and Spencer.


Slender Beams of Solid Rhythm (1991) listen to excerpt

Andrew Spencer, percussion
Commissioned by Nick Petrella

One of the most engaging aspects of music for me is rhythm. My fixation with numbers attracts me to complex rhythms with intricate counting while my history with rock music draws me toward the physical energy of drumming and popular beats. I am especially attracted to music in which I become so engaged by the rhythm that a feeling of clarity or freedom emerges. In Slender Beams I picture the mental state of the performer becoming so intensely focused on counting, changing meters and manipulating themes that it converges into a beam, and picture the traveling of that beam through space as representing the feeling of freedom. Thus the full title, as printed in the score, reads "Focusing your awareness into . . . Slender Beams of Solid Rhythm."

The piece is formed around three of these journeys into focused awareness, each based on an obsessive rhythmic treatment of a few short motives: the opening passage on a single drum, a central section for maracas, and the closing passage for two drums. The driving rhythms and minimal instrumentation of these sections are contrasted with spacious, abstract, non-metered interludes using a wide variety of exotic timbres.

Of Wind and Water (1992) listen to excerpt

Andrew Spencer, marimba
Commissioned by Michael Burritt

I am fascinated with Indian culture, especially with cooking Indian food. Traveling there to immerse myself in local tastes, I found myself living for three months in a small ashram on the bank of the Ganges river in the Himalayan foothills. Life there was simple and fulfilling, revolving around tabla lessons and the rituals of the ashram. I have fond memories of sitting across from my friend Devi for a daily discussion of Hindu philosophy from the Bhagavad Gita.

After returning to Seattle I was invited to cook Indian food for a yoga retreat on nearby Lopez Island. One day, while taking a break from cooking and postures, walking down a quiet, country road, the main themes for Of Wind and Water came to me. Immersed in memories of my travels, the piece took shape in the context of the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. The following note appears in the score:

Chapter Two, verse 67, of the Bhagavad Gita suggests that the movement of our senses among the sense objects is similar to the wind carrying a ship across the waters. This image resulted in the spacious and tranquil material in the piece. The verse goes on to suggest that the object to which the mind is joined takes away one's discrimination. This concept is reflected compositionally by grabbing hold of thematic elements as points of departure and elaboration.

Dusting the Connecting Link (1995) - listen to intro / later in the piece

Andrew Spencer, percussion

In The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda, Carlos speaks of entering a heightened state of awareness in which he understands everything that don Juan is teaching him. Don Juan tells Carlos that there is an incredible force, a force beyond description, called intent, and that everything that exists is joined to intent by means of a connecting link. He says that this connecting link is a concern to Native American Indian sorcerers as something to understand and utilize. Of particular importance is the task of keeping the connecting link live and vital, free of the numbing effects which are a result of the routines and concerns of our daily lives. Later, don Juan suggests to Carlos that he relax and listen to a story, a story about the process sorcerers use to bring their apprentices into the realm of the spirit, a process called trickery of the spirit, or dusting the connecting link to intent.

Performing Dusting the Connecting Link involves choice. The music is all on one page, with the main theme appearing both at the bottom and at the top, and with three pathways connecting them. Each pathway has small fragments of music scattered across it, and each uses a different set of instruments: mixed percussion on the left, metallic instruments on the right, and two small drums in the center. The piece begins by repeating the main theme at the bottom of the page. Soon the player begins to explore one of the pathways, playing the fragments in any order and repeating them any number of times so as to build tension. The player gains more and more momentum the farther he or she travels up the pathway, and builds to a climax as he or she reaches the top. Finding the same theme that began the piece, the tensions resolves and the player returns to the bottom of the page to explore another pathway. The piece is finished when all three pathways have been traveled.

Release (1995) listen to excerpt

Mike Bruce, Chris Francis, Steve Gale, Stacie Kudamatsu, Brian Nesselroad, Sandra Sheuerman, Eric Swanson, Shane Trout, percussion
Andrew Spencer, conductor

Commissioned by Central Washington University with assistance from Eastern Washington University, Boise State University, and Central Washington University alumni.

Release was composed during a period of personal loss. The inspiration came to me first in the form of motives, followed rapidly by a complete rhythmic score which I then orchestrated for the ensemble. Embedded in the piece are both the darker and lighter aspects of loss and tragedy, a mingling of anger, fear, freedom, growth, etc., all of which should be emphasized in performance.