Mathias Reumert, multi-percussion and electronic triggering

Computer-processed sounds created in collaboration with Jacob Sundstrom

Roger Reynolds’s Watershed explores the relationship among sound, gesture, and emotional significance in a large-scale multi-percussion solo. The player is surrounded by four groups or “families” of percussion instruments, each with a distinctive musical identity. Drums are strict, dry, and rational. So-called “oddities” (small objects) function as an alter ego of the drums. Metals (tam-tams, cymbals, etc.) appear “organic and malleable.” Finally, wooden boxes with rattling wire snares play the part of “commentators” or “critics.”

A grand drama unfolds wherein these families collide. Transference and transformation ensue.

The phenomenon of the watershed has iconic force, whether in reference to continental geometries, or a decisive circumstance in an individual's life. There is an attractive aura around those increasingly rare realms that is decisive. The twentieth century saw the emergence of percussion as a musical resource – its capacity to manifest unbridled energy, as well as its unmatched diversity of sounds. But achieving with percussive resources the satisfaction of the more traditionally developed domains of strings and winds has proved elusive. To this end, I decided on two complementary strategies: the giving of individual, almost theatrical character to families of percussion instruments, and the global immersion of listeners in the physicality of sonority itself.

The drums and 'oddities' dominate more than half of the piece, establishing an explicit and reasoned world. This perspective finds its limits, so to speak, and there is a metaphoric 'realization,' after which the closing portion of the work is then carried by the more subjective and inferential ways of the metallic resource. An assured, logical approach gives way, in short, to something less well-managed, perhaps, but more true to the lives we lead.” (Roger Reynolds)

Reynolds developed Watershed in collaboration with percussionist Steven Schick and a team of real-time sound spatialization experts, and Schick premiered different versions of the piece in 1995-1996. More than two decades later, Reynolds collaborated with computer musician Jacob Sundstrom and percussionist/producer Mathias Reumert to create the electro-acoustic Watershed V, which Reumert premiered on September 1, 2020, at the SV-festival in Copenhagen.


Producer: Mathias Reumert

Recording, mix, and mastering: Sebastian Vinther Olsen
Cover: sketch by Roger Reynolds, design by Mathias Reumert

Video recording: Christoffer Askman
Video editing: Kenneth Laugaard
Photo by Erik Jepsen
Music publisher: Edition Peters
Recorded at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen

With support from the Danish Arts Foundation


Released July 3, 2024