Dave Hollinden
The Whole Toy Laid Down
  • percussion quartet, duration: 12 minutes
  • composed in 1988
  • premiere: Percussion Ensemble of New Jersey (under Ray des Roches), Charles Ives Center New Music Festival, Roxbury, CT, 1988
  • select performances:
    • The New York Percussion Quartet, New York, NY, 2004
    • Aspen Percussion Ensemble, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen, CO, 1999
    • Senzuko Music College Percussion Concert, Tokyo, Japan, 1996
    • Ethos Percussion Ensemble, Merkin Hall, New York, NY, 1995
    • Julliard Percussion Ensemble, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, NY, 1994
    • Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England, 1993
    • University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Philadelphia, PA, 1990
Listen to Excerpt:

The Whole Toy Laid Down appears on the the following CD's:

View the Score:
  • Player 1: vibraphone, piccolo snare drum, splash cymbal, ride cymbal, triangle
  • Player 2: marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, large snare drum, high-hat
  • Player 3: eight graduated tom toms, field drum, two crotales, tambourine, bongos, log drum, two pitched gongs (d#5 and e5), wood block, splash cymbal
  • Player 4: four timpani, medium snare drum, tenor drum, small bass drum, high-hat, splash cymbal
About the piece/Program Note:

The title and music for The Whole Toy Laid Down were inspired by an extended daydream about a mechanical wind-up toy. With that as a starting point, my goal was to fuse the energy of rock style drumming with classical performance technique, resulting in music that is both accessible and challenging.


The Whole Toy Laid Down is a demanding and complex work for percussion ensemble. Premiered in 1988 by Ray des Roches and the Percussion Ensemble of New Jersey at the Charles Ives Center, Dave Hollinden's composition was also performed at the 1990 PASIC in Philadelphia by the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Michael Udow. The work is written for four percussionists each with a large set up of standard percussion instruments. Hollinden incorporates percussion keyboard instruments with toms, snare drums, gongs and an assortment of cymbals and toys to create an array of textures.

The opening motive sets up the theme that recurs throughout the work. Rotating between strong dissonant and octave figures, Hollinden sets the stage for this "roller coaster" piece. The Whole Toy jumps from meter to meter with aggressive unison figures finding contrast with tempo changes and isolated solo passages. The work concludes with a restatement of the main theme and a forceful ending.

Let's be honest here. The Whole Toy Laid Down is not for the faint of heart. This composition is difficult and demands four advanced players with excellent ensemble coaching. However, properly prepared, it would serve as an interesting selection on any college ensemble program.

Mark Ford, Percussive Notes, August, 1992

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