Strings Attached (1999)
Percussion sextet. 11:00.
“In Strings Attached, six drummers surround a central pole. Their sticks are tethered to the pole, or in some cases to each other, by means of lightweight white nylon rope. Movements in the rope, therefore, reflect each movement of the sticks.
Big musical gestures give rise to a dramatic choreography as rising and falling tremolos on the drums produce parallel wave shapes on the ropes. However, Strings Attached also amplifies small shifts of color: changing the striking area on the drum from center to edge produces subtle changes of tone color which could easily go unnoticed in performance. But, this small shift of position causes the strings to tighten and creates very noticeable results in the waveform on the rope. Strings Attached reduces instrumental color to the single sound of a snare drum, but by amplifying its sound visually, big shapes are made from small sources. With its clear relationship of cause and effect, a fascinating game of intentions and results ensues. The drummers are not unlike children with flashlights who cast the scary shadows of monsters on the inside of a tent." - Steven Schick
Strings Attached was commissioned by, and is dedicated to Red Fish Blue Fish percussion ensemble, who premiered it at University of California, San Diego, 1999.
"Through the intricately choreographed score of rolls and accents, the quivering ropes suggested gusts of wind or sound wave phenomena, in what became a percussion tour de force and kinetic sculpture all in one." - Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times
"For those brave enough to weather the [Bang on a Can Marathon] in its entirety, two of the works challenged the 'Bang on a Can' status quo, moving the festival into vital new territory...In the second of these prophetic works - Erik Griswold's 'Strings Attached' - left/right coordination is studied with the help of a large maypole, with ropes attached to the sticks of four snare drummers positioned around the pole. The ropes' vibrations, and the movements of two other snare drummers, create visual models for how waves (sonic or otherwise) are emitted and received."
- Gregg Wager, Newsday
"If you are looking for a very unique percussion ensemble work at either the high school or college level that will be both fun and entertaining, "Strings Attached" is the piece." - F. Michael Combs, Percussive Notes 69