The New Music Consort
The genesis of the independent percussion ensemble may be linked to the desire of twentieth- century composers to extend the world of timbral resources, as well as to an interest in the music and philosophy of non-Western cultures, whose sophisticated rhythms are often expressed by percussion instruments. As composers have sought new ways to organize music, rhythm has served as a structural foundation through which the hegemony of pitch-based systems might be destroyed. Concentration on the percussive aspects of music also reflects an interest in primitive cultures, which expressed primal energy through rhythm; rhythm may also express primitivism's opposite, an advanced mechanized society, the characteristics of which are at the pounding pulse of its machinery and the monotonous regularity of daily life.
The composers on this recording explore different aspects of time and rhythm. John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Henry Cowell view time linearly: Pulse is established by a steady shower of eighth notes, against which subtle rhythmic quirks can be superimposed. Lukas Foss treats time dialectically and episodically, alternating and contrasting the dreamlike state of unrelated rhythmic interactions with the reality of linearity, represented by repeated rhythmic patterns. Harvey Sollberger prefers the expressive capabilities of the recitative in contrast to the motoric regularity of a steady pulse that carries us from moment to moment with its inherent logic in the work of Cage and Harrison.