Matthew Schellhorn


DAVID BRUCE (b. 1970)
Berimbau (2007)
for solo piano | 8' | World Premiere 2007
  • SummaryOpen or Close
    Matthew Schellhorn gave the World Premiere of David Bruce's Berimbau during a recital for the Hertford Music Club, which included Daquin, Mozart, Messiaen and Chopin. The piece explores the Brazilian berimbau, a simple stringed percussion instrument with a range of intriguing sounds.
  • Programme noteOpen or Close
    Berimbau is the first of a projected series of pieces for solo piano inspired by instruments from around the world. The aim is not necessarily to imitate the sound of the instrument, but more to use elements of the sound, or the approach to playing the instrument as a starting point and a point of focus for each piece.

    The Berimbau is a percussive instrument used in the Brazilian dance/martial art Capoeira. It is made from a large wooden bow with a steel string and a resonating gourd. As played for capoeira the berimbau has essentially three sounds – two pitched sounds, one higher one lower, and a third buzzing sound. Throughout much of my piece this use of two alternating pitches together with a more percussive third sound can be found somewhere in the texture.

    In listening to capoeira music on the berimbau I have often been struck by a rhythm which is half way between a three equal tripets and a quaver-semiquaver-semiquaver pattern – sort of a lazy triplet if you like. I took this rhythm as another of my starting points and notated it as a quintuplet filed with quaver-dotted semiquaver-dotted semiquaver, sometimes using it in isolation, sometimes contrasted with a simultaneous even triplet.

    Finally the piece captures two different characters that I have noticed from the berimbau – in the first half of the piece the mood is misterious, tentative, almost feeling its way in the dark – rather like the capoeira dancers might size one another up in the opening stages of a dance. In the second half the mood becomes much more energetic and culminates in a frenzy of rhythm.

    © 2007 David Bruce
  • PerformancesOpen or Close
    18 November 2007
    Friends' Meeting House, Hertford, UK
    World Premiere
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