John Psathas: One Study One Summary

Download the Psathas/Truesdell Marimba Ossia – FINAL VERSION

 

At one of the early nief-norf Summer Festivals, I remember hearing Omar Carmenates shredding one of the sweetest jams I had ever heard!  It turned out to be One Study One Summary, composed by New Zealand-based composer John Psathas.  I couldn’t wait to program it on my next recital!  (To purchase the score, click here!)

Two versions of the piece are available:  marimba and junk percussion with electronics, and a solo marimba and electronics version (in this version, the junk percussion is recorded into the accompanying electronic track).

After performing the version with junk percussion, my New York City gigging life encouraged the logistically-easier solo marimba version.  However, when performing only the marimba version, the player doesn’t participate in the thrilling percussion solo, occurring around 3:50 into the first movement.

I wrote to John Psathas in the summer of 2014 asking if an ossia marimba part could be added.  He didn’t feel that he had the time to compose it, but asked “How would you feel about coming up with something?”  I was equally excited and terrified.  I am NOT a composer and John is one of the greats of our time!  But I set to work.

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Here’s my first version:  Truesdell_version 1

John’s initial edits: JP response

(We had a couple more back-and-forth emails in the middle before the final draft, but the changes were much smaller and sometimes aesthetic only.)

Final version (also available at the top of this page):  Psathas/Truesdell – Etude Ossia FINAL

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As one can see, John is a master of interval to create intensity.  Where I already gave up on the tonic in m. 3, John stayed true to Eb.  In m. 5, I had readily introduced the dominant and was gladly revealing the seventh, but John was barely into using the dominant.  However, once the section started to have momentum (m. 12), I used a chromatic line on beat 3 and he spread out the voicing to give it more foundation and gravity.

Most notably, John brilliantly took out my rolled chords in mm. 19-21 and replaced them with a pitch-matched version of the recorded junk percussion.  The slightly out-of-tune “junk” gives a beautiful shimmer to the conclusion of this section.

Above all else, I took away a very important composition (and life!) lesson:  be patient!  John was patient with the development of this section and helped me to understand a new way to interpret and perform this work.

 

Thank you John Psathas!!

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