David Lang and FRAMES Percussion

I am really excited that FRAMES Percussion and Neu Records in Barcelona have just released their own version of my percussion quartet “the so-called laws of nature”.

What I love most about this recording — aside from the stellar performance and the crystal clear sound — is how different it is from the original recording with So Percussion.  I mean, I love So Percussion’s version, I wrote the piece for So, I coached their premiere, I supervised their recording, their recording is on Cantaloupe, the label that I co-own. But the score has a lot of room for variation in it. I am very happy that FRAMES Percussion has thought so deeply about all the new places those variations could go. And then, they’ve gone there.

The biggest variations in the so-called laws of nature are in the choice of instruments. My piece describes certain kinds of materials (wood, metal, flower pots, bells, etc.) and every ensemble essentially has to build their own set-up before they can even start rehearsing the music. What that means is that every group that performs the piece has to make a bunch of fundamental decisions about the sound world the music will be living in. What that also means is that it’s in those choices where we can hear each group’s unique personality. 

I’ve been making percussionists choose their own set-ups for over 30 years now — in almost all of my solo percussion music. I wish I could say that I thought of this myself! But the truth is I learned it from my friend Steve Schick. When we were both students, he showed me the range of freedom Xenakis gives to players in his landmark solo Psappha. When I started writing pieces for Steve I remembered that freedom, and it became a big part of my solos “the anvil chorus”, “scraping song”, and “unchained melody”. I hope you will check out this new recording by FRAMES Percussion. You are in for a real treat.