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“Locomotion” by Dave Hollinden


“Locomotion” by Dave Hollinden

Performed by Ad Astra Percussion

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


Robert van Sice Signature (M115)

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Medium hard. Bright, but not to the point of “xylophone-like” brilliance.


Terry Gibbs Signature (M32)

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This line offers a rattan handled mallet for every dynamic range on vibraphone or marimba. Cord wound heads.


Locomotion (2012)

Locomotion was commissioned by Ad Astra Percussion and Listen! Percussion Group in the spring of 2012 and was co-premiered on April 27, 2013. The work is written for 9 tom toms, 9 flower pots, 9 skillets and 9 boos (a boo is a log drum-like instrument invented by composer/instrument designer Harry Partch). The title of each movement refers to some sort of “Locomotion,” in this case referring to physical movement. Procession, as the title implies, is an introduction of the instruments to the audience. In Sleepwalk the performers use Super Ball mallets to create an undulating and ever-transforming texture. Dance involves the performers switching between 13 different implements including chopsticks, dowel rods, cork mallets and split bamboo while making drastic accelerations and decelerations in tempo. Race is an extremely polyrhythmic movement in which the composer used random numbers from the website random.org to determine the number of notes played by each person as well as time signatures and the number of repeats. The amalgam of sound created from the combination of textures and the dense polyrhythms at times become completely alien. The unusual instrumentation and unique mallets in Locomotion create textures found in no other music.

Note from the composer:

“When I began working on this piece I had ideas for each movement, and turning these ideas into music would involve making a lot of decisions. Some of these decisions were “large” and would affect the music on a broad scale, though the majority were “small” and concerned details that would pass by quickly. I wanted the music to take unexpected twists and turns, unexpected even to me, so while I relied on intuition to make the large decisions, I turned to lists of random numbers to make the small ones. I relied on intuition once again to convert these decisions into actual music, but this was an unusual situation. I was writing music intuitively within the constraints of many decisions I hadn’t made myself. I found this both interesting and exciting, and the music felt both familiar and unfamiliar.”

  – Dave Hollinden


Dave Hollinden’s music reflects an innate predisposition toward rhythm, counting and number. He has composed extensively for percussion in solo, ensemble, and chamber settings, and his music is widely performed in the US and overseas. Portrait concerts dedicated to his works were held at Rowan University in 2007 and the University of Michigan in 2013.

Recordings of his music appear on CDs by Joseph Gramley, Ethos Percussion Group, Base Four Percussion Quartet, Sole Nero, Eclectic Trio/Crescent Duo, Norman Weinberg, Michael Burritt, and Equilibrium/Michael Udow. The CD Slender Beams, created by Hollinden and percussionist Andrew Spencer, features live and studio recordings of his music.


Formed in Lawrence, Kansas in 2012, Ad Astra Percussion (Von Hansen, Luke Dull, Tai-Jung Tsai and Mai Tadokoro) is an exciting and dynamic quartet dedicated to playing contemporary percussion music. Using a palette of anything from marimbas and snare drums to auto parts and teacups, they create a musical landscape that is both familiar and intriguing. This expansive instrumentation allows their repertoire to range from explosive and raucous to delicate and ethereal. Ad Astra Percussion is rooted in performing compositions by masters such as John Cage and Steve Reich while championing works of contemporary composers. The members of Ad Astra Percussion have performed a centennial celebration of the music of John Cage for the Spencer Art Museum’s Concert Series, The Grace Cathedral Great Spaces Concert Series and various concerts throughout Kansas and Missouri. Ad Astra Percussion is sponsored by TreeHouse Drums.

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