Overview

Decoding the composition
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A solo percussion and digital audio work commissioned by commissioned by: Fabian Ziegler, Switzerland - Alex Georgiev, Austria - Adelaide Férrière, France - Omar Carmenates, USA - Zhengdao Lu, China - Sam Um, USA Pei Ching Wu, Taiwan - James Larter, UK - Vassilena Serafimova, Bulgaria - Gaku Ueno, Japan - Edoardo Giachino, Italy

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RealBadNow: Solo Percussion
$ 120.00 NZD
After a new work for solo percussion? This product contains the complete Performer Bundle for RealBadNow: Solo Percussion and Digital Audio (with optional video) with everything you need to perform the work, including a PDF of the performance score and a multitude of audio files suitable for performance, practice, and reference. #Percussion
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Parts - PDF
Practice - Audio
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RealBadNow: Solo Percussion
$ 60.00 NZD
Looking to add another dimension to your performance of RealBadNow? This Performance Video offers a synchronized film, custom-created by Filip Mercep, perfectly suited for import into software running the backing track.
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Watch and Listen

A curation of Performances, interviews and reviews of my work

In Focus:

RealBadNow

Performance Notes, Articles, Reviews, John's Messages

Project Details

RealBadNow

for solo percussion and audio

Commissioner: Fabian Ziegler, Alex Georgiev, Adelaide Férrière, Omar Carmenates, Zhengdao Lu, Sam Um, Pei Ching Wu, James Larter, Vassilena Serafimova, Gaku Ueno, and Edoardo Giachino

Instrumentation: Vib/Shek/Stones/Toms/BD/Cymb

Premiered by Fabian Ziegler on February 5, 2022 at the KunstKlangKirche, Zürich, Switzerland

Difficulty Level:
Virtuosic
Duration:
18:00
Type:
Original
Instrument Tags:
Mixed Percussion
Vibraphone
Shekeres
Stones
Tom Toms
Bass Drum
Cymbal
Mallet Percussion
Percussion
Digital Audio

From the Composer

Hello.

If you’re interested in this piece I thought it might be useful to know some more about the thinking and feeling behind the composing.

I was inspired by the book Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle by Brad Evans and Henry Giroux. This book is where the movement titles come from . . .

Part1

I. Individualize the Social

The spaces in the world where we used to gather socially (and be physically present together) have been drastically reduced, some would say deliberately, so that there are fewer and fewer opportunities for us to come together as groups and communities. Of course, this weakens us. What used to be social space is now individual space. Even when we connect digitally, we do so when we are (usually) physically alone and this is not the same thing. This movement is designed to give the feeling of floating freely and alone, in a universe of one.

Part2  

II. Normalize Catastrophic Imagination

III. Encourage Citizens to Participate in Their Own Oppression

IV. Create Zones of Terminal Exclusion

You can see in the score where each of these sub-sections begin. This movement is a reflection on the idea that we are encouraged to think catastrophically, and to accept that we can do nothing about the way things are and where we are heading. But that is not enough, we are also encouraged now to participate in our own oppression, contributing to, and admiring, the success and glory of those who are accumulating the majority of resources and wealth. For the unluckiest in the world this has led to ‘zones of terminal exclusion’, where the hopelessness is made permanent and sections of societies are considered increasingly ‘disposable’, with no escape from this status.

Part3

V. Prepare for Defiant Acts of Radical Imagination

Of course, this does not have to be the way, and it does not have to be permanent.
But for change to occur in the 21st century, a much stronger kind of defiance is needed. All the ‘isms’ (communism, capitalism, fascism, neo-liberalism, etc.) have failed.
Protest and resistance need to be inspired by radical imagination, not by the old methods. The world needs a new idea. Positively charged, collective energy is represented here with music that is confident, celebratory, and pumping with determination.

Part4

VI. Teach appreciation of the Aesthetics of Violence

VII. Prevent Solidarity at All Costs

VIII. Instigate and Perpetuate a War of All-On-All

We live in an era in which violence has become the main spectacle in life, whether it is filmed entertainment, news clips, or social media. The line between real and fictional violence (and real and fictional suffering) has been almost completely erased. We are well past being desensitised; violence as a spectacle now has its own aesthetic criteria. And it is greatly enjoyed as entertainment by billions of people every day. The big tom-tom sections in this movement represent that violence-as-entertainment.

Along with this is a very clear message that ‘each of us is in this alone’. That each person must learn to be self-reliant and look after themselves. This prevents the development of solidarity and community strength. By becoming hyper-individualised we not only focus almost entirely on what is good for each of us as an individual, but we also start to enter into an individualised competition for resources and rewards. This is the establishment and perpetuating of a war of all-on-all.

Part5

IX. Epilogue: RealBadNow

Here is the final expression. A sadness about things having arrived at the ‘real bad’ place.
I am old now. When I was younger, I was certain things would get better and better.
But that certainty is gone. Now I feel the world has been split into billions of individuals, lost in their own uncertainties, without the knowledge, or will, to build communities, and act in groups for positive change. Yes, depressing. I could have changed the order of the movements so that the 3rd movement was last. That way RealBadNow would finish with a positive, hopeful energy. But that would feel dishonest. I am glad the 3rd movement is part of the piece –because there is still hope in there. But only just. This last movement, with its exquisite sadness and beauty, is almost like a shift in consciousness, especially the last part. A leaving of terrestrial life, drifting into the cosmos, or the afterlife.

I hope you find value in learning and sharing this music. John Psathas
31/12/2021

Resources

LISTEN TO MALLET TOMS (FROM PARTS 2-4) ON SOUNDCLOUD

LISTEN TO SHEKERE FROM PARTS 6-8 ON SOUNDCLOUD

LISTEN TO TOMS (WITH STICKS) FROM PARTS 6-8 ON SOUNDCLOUD

LISTEN TO AUDIO EXAMPLE OF STONES FROM PARTS 6-8 ON SOUNDCLOUD

AUDIO SAMPLES OF THE BASS DRUM (W/CYMBAL) TECHNIQUES USED IN THIS PIECE (ON SOUNDCLOUD)