Christopher Rouse (1949 - ) is an American composer who has taught at the University of Michigan, Eastman School of Music, as well as the Julliard School. Rouse won the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1993 with his Trombone Concerto (from 1991)
Bonham is a work for percussion ensemble and is an “ode” to John Bonham, the drummer from Led Zeppelin. This work also features many drum quotes from Led Zeppelin
First, this piece is difficult to discern a specific style from due to the nature of the ensemble. However, there are some unique characteristics of this piece that make it worthwhile.
Bonham starts with the drum groove from “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin before the other performers enter.
For the most part the work is structure around the main drum set part which features main other quotes from Led Zeppelin song. The other performers help rhythmically elaborate over top of the drum grooves.
If listening to this work and not knowing the quoted tunes, the few things that would stand out would be the use of drum kit along side orchestral and auxiliary percussion.
An easy way to place this work would be to know percussion ensembles had their origins in the early 20th century with Cage and Varése. Also the tonal under painting in Bonham would point to the end of the century (not the beginning). While not helping define Christopher Rouse, placing this work in history would be easy.
ComparisonEditI would like to compare this work to a solo piano rag by William Bolcom (1938 - ). While, Rouse uses pop music references in his work, Bolcom decides to write music in a an old popular style.
Bolcom's Graceful Ghost Rag comes from 1971. If a listener had no idea Bolcom wrote rags they would be instantly confused. Nevertheless, this rag works to incorporate popular music styles into the Western art music canon. (This and other rags offer drastic harmonic contrast from other works by Bolcom).
These ventures into incorporating or referencing popular music in art music becomes more and more normal as time goes on.
The main reason I choice this work main is the crossover/ reference to classic rock (or mainstream pop music) in a developmental art music fashion, which unfortunately Rouse doesn’t do much of.
""Bonham" av Christopher Rouse, spilt av NRKs Kringkastingsorkester" YouTube video, 8:38. Posted by "nrk" upload November 4, 2010. video.
Bonham, Christopher Rouse, http://www.boosey.com/cr/perusals/score.asp?id=1149
""William Bolcom - Graceful Ghost Rag.wmv " YouTube video, 4:45. Posted by "JLeeGraham" upload August 15, 2011. video.