for  piccolo, percussion quintet and tape

Written: 1985
Duration: 15'
Instrumentation: piccolo, percussion quintet and tape
World Premiere: Eastman Percussion Ensemble, John Beck, conductor, Eastman School of Music Eastman Theater, Rochester, NY, November 25, 1986.
Publisher: Bill Holab Music (ASCAP)

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Program Note

I came upon the idea for Sabulum Reptilia while strolling through the Reptile House at the Buffalo Zoo. While I watched the reptiles move about in their glass-walled cages, I noticed that they moved in a way that was very rhythmical. I then decided that it would be fun to base a composition on their mystical rhythms. In the process, I would attempt to convert a few of the rhythms into melodies and harmonies. This was not very easy, considering that reptiles do not make any vocal sounds except an occasional “hiss” or two. While writing this work I also took into consideration many other aspects of reptiles besides the way they moved. Origin, size, looks and stereotypes of certain reptiles all played a role.

The piece begins with a recording of various taped sounds that are intended to set the audience in the right frame of mind as well as introduce the theme. At the end of the third movement the recording of the taped sounds is replayed in order to restate the introduction.

Sabulum Reptilia was written for my first composition teacher, William Ortiz Alvarado, and it is dedicated to him. It is the first true ensemble piece I ever wrote for more than two musicians performing at the same time.

The following list contains the animals represented in this work:

Movement I
Desert Iguana (domesticated)
Desert Iguana (un-domesticated)

Movement II
Desert Sidewinder
Desert Iguana
Desert Iguana running across sand
2 Desert Crickets
3 desert Crickets
4 Desert Crickets
Pinacate Beetle

Movement III
Green Bay Gecko
Regal-Horned Lizard
Fringe–Toed Lizard Startled by a Roadrunner
Diamond–Backed Rattle Snake
Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon Hunting Wild Pig
Finale: Thunderstorm on the Desert