Talking Down the Tiger


Composing Talking Down the Tiger was one of the rare times where both the title for the piece and the musical ideas came at the same time. For me, percussion is a metaphorical tiger, possessing all at once ferociousness, beauty, and mystery. Many percussion instruments (and percussionists) exhibit their most interesting and expressive sounds at the pianissimo dynamic register, which is at odds with the type of blustering, heavy-handed writing often associated with percussion, particularly in a historical context. In this piece I wanted to explore a journey from a wild and ferocious sound world that gradually recedes into a mystical and beautiful sound world lying beneath. It is in one continuous movement with two large divisions, the first marked “Crazy!” and the second marked “Beautiful”.

The work involves live electronics in the form of looping. Looping is a fairly standard electroacoustic practice that essentially involves sound capture and repeating playback. I took these basic parameters and expanded them to reflect the compositional logic of the piece. The looper I designed, dubbed the stanilooper, is capable of a number of unusual looping functions that match the pitch and rhythmic material of the percussion. The electronics extend the sound of the percussionist in both space and time, diffusing over multiple speakers. The work may be played with or without the live looping; the looping is improvisatory and as such is not notated in the score.

Talking Down the Tiger was commissioned by virtuoso percussionist Ryan Scott, with assistance from the Toronto Arts Council.

Andrew Staniland CA

Described as a "new music visionary" (National Arts Centre),
composer Andrew Staniland has established himself as one of Canada's
most important and innovative musical voices. His music is performed
and broadcast internationally and has been described by Alex Ross in
the New Yorker Magazine as "alternately beautiful and terrifying".
Among other accolades, Andrew is the recipient of two Juno
nominations for Dark Star Requiem in 2017, was awarded the Terra Nova
Young Innovators Award in 2016, was the National Grand Prize winner of
EVOLUTION (presented in 2009 by CBC Radio 2/Espace Musique and The
Banff Centre), and was the recipient of the Karen Keiser Prize in
Canadian Music in 2004. As a leading composer of his generation,
Andrew has been recognized by election to the Inaugural Cohort of the
College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists Royal Society of
Andrew was an Affiliate Composer to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
(2006-09) and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (2002–04), and has
also been in residence at the Centre du Creation Musicale Iannis
Xenakis (Paris, 2005).  Recent commissioners include the National Arts
Centre Orchestra, the Brooklyn Art Song Society, cellist Frances-Marie
Uitti, and Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Andrew also performs as a
guitarist and with new media (computers and electronics). Andrew is
currently on faculty at Memorial University in St John's
Newfoundland, where he founded MEARL (Memorial ElectroAcoustic
Research Lab). At MEARL, Andrew leads a cross-disciplinary research
team that has produced the innovative Mune digital instrument:

For more information about Andrew Staniland, click here.

Andrew Staniland