“No vestige of a beginning, – no prospect of an end.”


This describes last week very well as the organisation, recording and performance of Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas came to fruition. Little did I know where the creative journey would take me when I read John Hutton’s quote in the Natural History Museum on March 2nd 2013 and the idea for a composition that had many beginnings and endings started to form.

Up until the time of the London visit the music I had composed were going to be organised in a traditional way for percussion ensemble with the drum kit as the featured instrument. Once the Hutton revelation had occurred I changed the way I thought about each idea or section of music. Rather than imagining the music being organised to flow in one specified way I began considering methods of composing so that each section would be flexible enough to act as a starting point, an ending point or some transitional point during the composition.

This has resulted in the majority of musical sections in the work (Vistas as they are titled in the score) having an individual sense of structure, able to be performed as stand alone works, with the contrast of sounds being achieved by the alternation between two percussion ensembles (one with five players and one with three) throughout. This ‘conversation’ between the ensembles was a very interesting aspect during the world premiere performance.

At the venue I had put up a board with letters and numbers that corresponded with the titles of sections in Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas. These letters and numbers had also been broadcast on social media to allow the opportunity of virtual as well as physical influences on the order of the music.


The world premiere performance at The Joseph Bramah, Market Hill, Barnsley on Thursday 26th June 2014 started with the ensemble of five percussionists at Vista 11 followed by the trio of percussionists from Vista J. Most of the sounds in Vista 11 come from cymbals on the drum kit part and Vista J is all cymbals as well. This was just one of the accidental juxtapositions of similar timbres that happened during the first performance and thank you to all that participated to create these phenomena.

Continuing with the acknowledgements I must thank Steve Kohut and the Mixed Metals Percussion Ensemble for performing the work, the guest soloist Peter Fairclough for his thoughtful and inventive drum kit ideas, other members of the ensemble – Phil Steventon, Le Yu, Matt Dabbs, Keith Ramskill and Nigel Chapman. Jack Green and Dr. Al McNichol for the studio recording during the day, Glen Sutton for filming the evening and Ben, June and all the staff at The Joseph Bramah who made us very welcome. The University of Huddersfield and Barnsley College for the use of instruments and spaces and Stewart Worthy and Steve Kohut for finding extra instruments at short notice. Robert Teal of the local express – Vitesse shops in Barnsley for the business sponsorship, everyone who contributed via Indiegogo thank you and finally Facebook friends for some photographs, any more out there please keep them coming. Everyone who has had some part to play in creating the music and putting on the event, thank you.

World Premiere at The Joseph Bramah

World Premiere at The Joseph Bramah

The first of many versions of the work has been performed and most of the music is recorded. As a future promotions I could release 1000 unique and individual versions of the work on CD as special editions and/or the Mixed Metals Percussion Ensemble could tour world performing unique versions at each venue. The prospects for Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas depends on demand from you the reader, audience and listener. Thursday’s performance was just the beginning of the distribution of the music which I hope will continue for many years.

There are still 50 programmes from the evening left, if anyone wants one as a memento and has a PayPal account, just transfer a donation of £5 or more to music@prbp.co.uk and I will send you the booklet.

© P.R.Birkby 2014


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
This entry was posted in Music Composition and Performance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s