Benzi: Chaplin – 8 percussionists, video playback, 15'

Ju Percussion Group.

Commissioned by the Ju Percussion Group. Premiered 3/20/07 at the National Concert Hall of Taipei, Taiwan. Video available to performing ensembles upon request.

During the first three decades of the 1900s, when a silent film was shown in Taiwan it was accompanied by a narrator. These narrators were called benzi masters. They were quite famous; more famous than the actors for whom they gave voices. For the benzi, the film was a vehicle for improvisation. A plot might insight social commentary, a comedy might become tragedy, a beautiful setting might inspire poetry...


wind chimes, shaker, triangle, clave, 2 wood block, 5 temple blocks
bass drum, 2 low drums, snare drum, tenor drum, 2 congas, 4 tom-toms
3 suspended cymbals, 4 sizzle cymbals, chinese gong, large gong, 2 tam-tams
vibraphone, marimba

The piece was composed to allow for instrumental flexibility. Please feel free to replace some instruments with like instruments from Asian culture. The "low drum" was written with a tanggu in mind, the toms with paigu, the small chinese gong should be a jingluo, and the clave is replaced easily with the "clappers" of the bangzi.

Please use multiple sizes of all duplicate instruments. The gongs should be of different tuning, one of the tam-tams may be swapped with a third large gong, and the cymbals may have a wide variety of sizes.
The listed mallets and beaters in the score should only be used as a guide. Please use whatever sticks, mallets, and beaters you deem musically appropriate. The piece requires 5 bows for vibraphone and tam-tam.

score excerpt