The idea for Percussion for Apartments came to me a few years ago when percussionist Justin DeHart and I were talking about collaborating on a solo percussion project. My instrumental background is in percussion, but starting in college I often lived in apartments where it wasn’t practical to practice at home. I was always somewhat jealous of musicians who played quieter instruments and could practice without having to head out to the studio.
We struck upon the idea of doing a series of quiet pieces for percussion that were “apartment appropriate”—a sort of chamber music for percussion in the original sense of the term.
Since everything was to be played quietly, it would by necessity involve a lot of extended techniques and nontraditional sounds. In addition, the act of generating all those sounds consistently requires a sort of intimate, tactile relationship with the instrument that would make a multipercussion setup impractical. For that reason, I decided to focus each piece on a single instrument and the sounds it could generate. To add textural interest, I also incorporated a live looping patch, written in SuperCollider, as a part of the performance.
Justin premiered the first piece, for solo conga, at a festival in Goiânia, Brazil, in 2015. Following the success of that piece, we decided to create three additional vignettes, for suspended cymbal, glockenspiel, and pandeiro.