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“Prism Of The Plural” by Joshua Mills


“Prism Of The Plural” by Joshua Mills

Performed by line upon line

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


Orchestral Series (M134)

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Medium hard urethane. Dark and bold for xylophone and bells.


Percussion music embodies at once the most raw and primitive aspects of music as well as the most contemporary. An entirely new sound-world is revealed when pitch as it is usually conceived is removed from the musical equation. The heart of music – the shape of sound as it moves through time – is bared in percussion music as in few others.

As music passes through time, it is refracted much as a beam of light is refracted as it passes through the glass of a prism. The same passage, heard at different times and in different times, may slowly unfold, reveal new aspects, make manifest parts once hidden and secret, and that which has already past and been fixed can itself be transformed by the shining of new light.

In Prism of the Plural, the limited material offered by instruments is refracted through repetition, transformation, and increasingly fast tempi so as to reveal hidden aspects and open to a single listener various perspectives of a single piece, and within a single piece.

Prism of the Plural is scored for four percussionists. Each has five drums and either five wood blocks (the middle players) or five metal bars (the outer players). An assortment of brake drums, chimes, crotales, cymbals, and tam-tams complete the battery.

Prism of the Plural was commissioned by Matthew Teodori and the Austin-based line upon line percussion group and was premiered by line upon line on 24 February 2009 at the University of Texas at Austin. The recording is of the 17 April 2009 performance by line upon line at the Universiy of Texas at Austin.


Formed in 2009, line upon line percussion is committed to seeking new ways for percussion instruments to advance contemporary music. To date, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered a dozen new works for percussion. In 2011, the Austin-based trio released a disc of commissioned, homegrown music and premiered their award-winning project, seeing times are not hidden, a site-specific work for custom chimes. April 2013 brought the North American premiere of Hugues Dufourt’s massive, evening-length masterpiece, Erewhon. The group self-presented a three-concert series in Austin for the first time during the 2013-14 season.

In 2013 and 2014, the trio was named “Best Ensemble” by the Austin Critics’ Table and is currently part of the TCA Texas Touring Roster. The Austinist called line upon line “the premier new music percussion ensemble in Texas and the South” and the Austin American-Statesman considers the group “a riveting, always-surprising and delightful trio.”

line upon line maintains educational and outreach roles with the Austin Chamber Music Center and has performed and taught at numerous academic institutions around the United States and in England, Switzerland and Germany. November 2012 marked their first appearance at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The group has previously performed at the Fusebox Festival, SXSW, Fast Forward Austin, the Victoria Bach Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top.

line upon line percussion uses Mapex drums, Remo drumheads, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and Grover Pro Percussion accessories.

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