by David R. Gillingham
Instrumentation: Crotales (2 octaves)[shared]/Xylophone, Bells/Xylophone, Vibraphone 1, Vibraphone 2, Marimba 1 (4.3-octave), Marimba 2 (4.3-octave), Marimba 3 (4.5-octave), Marimba 4 (5-octave)
Percussion 1: 5 Tibetan Prayer Bowls, Chimes, Crotales [shared], Suspended Cymbal [shared]
Percussion 2: Rainstick, Suspended Cymbal [shared], Crash Cymbals [shared], 2 Brake Drums [shared], Snare Drum [shared]
Percussion 3: Tam-Tam, Crash Cymbals [shared], 2 Brake Drums [shared], 5 Concert Toms [shared], Bongos, Suspended Cymbal [shared]
Percussion 4: Bass Drum, Wind Chimes, 2 Congas, Hi-Hat, 5 Concert Toms [shared]
Timpani (4 drums)
Commissioned by the Texas Christian University Percussion Orchestra (Brian A. West, conductor), Babylon is a programmatic work for percussion orchestra inspired by the story of “The Tower of Babel” from the chapter of Genesis of the Bible. Fittingly, this piece is released 25 years after the initial publication of Gillingham's seminal work, "Stained Glass."
The piece is divided into three sections that follow the story, Land of Shinar, Tower to Heaven, and Confusion of Language, each with its own theme. The Land of Shinar theme is built upon a sequence of chromatic mediant chordal progressions. Tower to Heaven features a rising theme using mostly rising fourth/descending fifth chord progressions. Confusion of Language is a 12-tone row and the section features difference variants of the row (inversion, retrograde, retrograde inversion) and different permutations to emulate the confusion of languages.
The Tower to Heaven theme cycles throughout the whole work. Deviating somewhat from the original story of Babylon, the “tower theme” emerges from the Confusion of Language section as a reminder of the infamous structure built by the people of Shinar before they were scattered throughout the earth. The piece ends as mystically and quietly as it began.