Continuum - Kazimierz Serocki International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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Continuum, a piece for 123 percussion instruments divided into six groups (1965-1966). It was performed for the first time at a festival in Stockholm in 1966 by Les Percussions de Strasbourg, to whom it is dedicated. The composition employs the following instruments: two xylorimbas, marimbaphone, three vibraphones, two glockenspiels, two sets of tubular bells, four Almglocken, sixteen crotales, nine Siamese gongs, fourteen cymbals, six tam-tams, six maracas, four triangles, nine hanging bottles, nine shakers, rattles, two whips (slapsticks), four timpani, and twenty-seven various types of drums (bass and small, tomtoms, bongos, etc.). The multiplied instruments are diversified in terms of pitch. The placement of musicians in the concert hall allows for visual contact. Having established the manner of communication, the musicians start coordinating and synchronising the course of the music. Each percussion group constitutes an independent source of sound. Various means of projecting and dislocating the sounds and noises coming out of these six sources result in a spatial-polyphonic sound continuum that gives rise to the form of the composition. Note-and-noise colours are more important here than the purely rhythmic elements. The dynamics mostly oscillate between pp and mf. The piece consists of thirty-six segments, the shortest of which lasts four seconds, and longest forty-five seconds. Durations indicated in seconds are only approximate and mark the proportions between segments. The graphic notation allows for some freedom of interpretation within the given segments, so that the work’s duration can vary from ten to thirteen minutes. 

Kazimierz Serocki 

(from the 1972 Warsaw Autumn programme book)