That single cymbal clash – the hunt is on!

Copy of West Malling Oct 09 008This evening I had a most enjoyable meal with Nigel, Brian and John; the composer and two musicians involved in the West Malling Concert (see various October posts including this one). Before the meal we listened to an electronically-produced version of Nigel’s Earthrise composition. I am amazed at how quickly he has produced a substantive and original piece of work – though he confessed he had been getting up at three or four in the morning to get the thing written out. And I got a chance to try out the first draft of my accompanying poem. Sharing a meal with musicians – especially those that have worked together – is always an enjoyable experience. They have a seemingly inexhaustible fund of stories and anecdotes about musicians, composers and performances. The last time we met we had been laughing about a Charlie Drake joke. Drake plays, among others, a triangle player in an orchestra who has a single note to play. He starts counting right from the very beginning of the piece and the gag is that he counts wrongly and so never gets his moment of glory. (You can see the whole sketch here.) John, a conductor, explained to me that this is not so far from the truth. There is, somewhere out there, a whole orchestral piece where the score calls for just one cymbal clash, but he couldn’t remember which it was. The search is on! Was it Bruckner? Beethoven? I await the winning entry!

3 Comments

  1. Tentative answer: wouldn’t it be The Surprise Symphony No. 94 by Haydn? I remember this from the secondary school music course: there was a ‘clash’ of cymbals at the end supposed to wake up the public.

  2. There is just one cymbal clash in the slow movement of Bruckner’s 7th symphony (and, speaking about single strikes, the gong is only struck once in the whole of Tchaikovsky’s 6th).

  3. I believe the answer maybe Bruckner’s 7th symphony. The only percussion in the whole symphony is in the slow movement. Two percussionist are required to play one cymbal crash and a triangle roll at the same time. Bruckner did a similar thing in Bruckner 8.
    Brian.

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