Bob Becker: Blog

Bob’s Interview with Mark Reilly

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In June, 2020 I received a series of questions from SGM Mark Reilly, rudimental champion, composer and Corps Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Mark’s questions and my answers follow. MR. Who was your first big inspiration and why? BB. I should say that my first teacher, James S…. Read more »

Bob’s Interview with Lan KaiPo

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In August, 2020 I received a series of questions from percussionist Lan KaiPo regarding my piece Never in Word (1998). Below are Lan’s questions and my answers. LK. When notating percussion instruments that are transposed (bells and crotales) do you ever question whether you should write the actual sounding pitch instead of the traditional lower… Read more »

Time in the Rock – Travails of a Composer

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Tragedy. “A drama typically involving a person destined to experience downfall or destruction, as through a character flaw, or conflict with some overpowering force such as fate or an unyielding society.” Hubris. “An extreme and unreasonable feeling of self-confidence.” Posthumous. “Published after the death of the author.” In May of 2001 I began work on… Read more »

The Solo Snare Drum: Bob’s interview with Jonathan Curtis

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  In September 2020 I was invited by British percussionist Jonathan Curtis to take part in his snare drum research project. Details about his work can be viewed HERE. Jonathan was particularly interested in some of the ideas in my book Rudimental Arithmetic, as well as more generally about composing music for solo snare drum…. Read more »

Eight Etudes for Snare Drum

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This month – October, 2020 – Keyboard Percussion Publications released a new edition of my Eight Etudes for Snare Drum. The etudes included in the collection were composed during 2005 and 2006, and formed the seventh and final part of Rudimental Arithmetic – A Drummer’s Study of Pattern and Rhythm, published by KPP in 2008…. Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 9) – In Ancient Temple Gardens

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Following Nexus’ first concert tour to Japan in 1976 my friend and colleague Bill Cahn composed two major works: Nara, for solo percussionist; and In Ancient Temple Gardens, for xylophonist/percussionist and chamber orchestra. Bill himself premiered the latter piece in 1977 with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra. Nexus celebrated its tenth anniversary during 1981/82 with a… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 8) – El Duo

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In 1988 the distinguished Canadian composer Norman Symonds (1920 – 1998) wrote a duet for accordion and marimba titled El Duo. The brilliant accordionist Joseph Petric and I premiered the piece at The Music Gallery in Toronto, and then recorded it in 2001. El Duo is included on Petric’s CD “Orbiting Garden”, released on the… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 7) – from Hatzis: Four Rituals

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In 2003 Nexus was able to commission a new work from the distinguished Canadian composer Christos Hatzis through a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation. We premiered his piece Four Rituals for Percussion Quintet, Chorus and Audience in December, 2004 on the Faculty Artists Series at the University of Toronto. The piece is in four movements:… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 6) – Palta (revised version)

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In February, 2004 Frank Epstein invited me to be a soloist on the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble’s “Rendezvous in Rhythm” concert. Along with Mudra and three of my xylophone medley arrangements I played my piece Palta in the revised version for tabla solo with 6 percussion players, piano and electric bass. Also on the… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 5) – Dance Variations

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In 1982 I was able to organize a commission for a new work from the distinguished Canadian composer John Hawkins. His piece Dance Variations is included on the NEXUS CD Rune, which was released in 1997. The recording was made by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Köln, Germany following a concert there by NEXUS in July… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 3) – Takemitsu Songs

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The venerable Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930 – 1996) is best known as a serious classical composer, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, an innovative creator of music for film. Although largely unknown in the west, his work in the popular song medium spans most of his creative life, and includes music for theatre and… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 2) – Triplets, Charleston Capers, Girlfriends Medley, and Castle Valse Classique

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In today’s digital electronic world it’s rare to find recordings that are not highly processed, edited and even over-dubbed. All eleven pieces on the NEXUS Ragtime Concert LP (1976) were recorded using the direct-to-disc process – a method that required each full side to be performed in a single take. That’s six pieces in a… Read more »

Bob’s interview with Greg Giannascoli

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GG: Hi Bob, I am writing a book with a series of interviews with the important marimba and xylophone artists of the 20th century and I would be honored if you would please answer the questions below. It is some biographical information but mainly about what you studied to get better and, as time went… Read more »

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