Joaquin on Sunshine

FOR percussion ensemble and rhythm section • 5 MINUTES • Advanced

Score published by Tapspace.

Joaquin on Sunshine was originally written in 2008 under the working title “El Ritmo Adentro.” In the early stages of my writing, the rhythms started developing an Afro-Cuban flavor, and before I knew it, I was writing my first songo-inspired piece. This wasn’t my original intent. I set out to write something where syncopation dictated its energy and the downbeats were rarely the dominant part of the pulse, melody, or phrasings. (El Ritmo Adentro translates to “The Rhythm Inside.”) 

As the piece solidified, it took on a festive quality that turned out to be a lot of fun. However, I could never quite come up with a title that reflected this in addition to its Latin flavor. So while the title didn’t come around until after the piece was finished (with inspiration from my friends Murray Gusseck and David Reeves), I love that our friend Joaquin has something to smile about. Fans of the band Katrina and the Waves may not appreciate the corny wordplay, but it makes me happy. 

Written for a large ensemble, the piece uses a fairly typical array of percussion instruments as well as a rhythm section including bass guitar, piano, drumset, timbales, bongos, congas, and shekere. A recurring motive of 2+3 rumba clave appears regularly, though it isn’t meant to be a constant key to the groove. Aside from the inherent challenges imposed by the syncopation, the often dense scoring can be difficult for players to navigate within. This becomes a great way for ensembles to rehearse awareness so that accompaniment doesn’t become heavy and for more melodic parts to relate their off-beat phrasings to the groove supplied by the accompaniment. When performed well, the phrasing feels precise and fluid while weaving around the strong beats, with the various instruments finding a comfortable balance with each other.

Joaquin on Sunshine was written for the Foster High School percussion ensemble from Richmond, Texas, under the direction of Mr. Daren Jordan.