Songs We Love: Kuniko, 'Rebonds - B' : Deceptive Cadence The modernist composer's solo percussion music — fueled by quick pulses in bongos and the fat punctuations of bass drums — flows in a new recording.
NPR logo

06Rebonds - B

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/398323829/398349287" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The Hypnotic Groove Of Xenakis

The Hypnotic Groove Of Xenakis

06Rebonds - B

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/398323829/398349287" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Buy Featured Music

    Song
    Rebonds - B
    Album
    Iannis Xenakis: IX
    Artist
    Kuniko
    Label
    Linn Records
    Released
    2015

    Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Percussionist Kuniko's new album is devoted to music by Iannis Xenakis. Linn Records hide caption

toggle caption
Linn Records

Percussionist Kuniko's new album is devoted to music by Iannis Xenakis.

Linn Records

Percussionists back in Beethoven's day could be forgiven for feeling a little bored, waiting for the infrequent roll of the kettledrum or the occasional cymbal crash. But as orchestras grew bigger, percussionists got busier — even more so after World War I, when a new generation of composers began writing specifically for percussion.

Composers like John Cage and Edgard Varèse expanded musical horizons for percussionists and others, like Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Boulez, followed their lead. The music, whether for soloist or ensemble, moved percussion into the spotlight and helped set standards for performance practice.

Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato (who goes by the single name Kuniko) studied in Tokyo under marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe. Later she was the first percussionist to graduate from the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music.

Kuniko's new album, IX, is a terrific all-Xenakis affair devoted to two of his best-known percussion pieces.

In Pléïdes, four movements for six percussionists, Kuniko overdubs herself playing each part (watch a fascinating video). But in the two-part Rebonds ("Rebounds") she is truly alone with her pair of bongos, a tumba (large conga), tom-tom, bass drums and a set of five wood blocks.

Xenakis might be considered cerebral (he was also an architect obsessed with geometry and math), but part B of Rebonds has a hypnotic, nearly danceable groove sustained by quick pulses in the bongos and fat punctuations from the bass drums. Kuniko lays out the rhythmic layers cleanly and with confidence. She doesn't play them speedily (like Pedro Carneiro), but instead opts for fluidity and a distinctive bounce that just might make your hips sway.

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Iannis Xenakis: IX
Artist
Kuniko
Label
Linn Records
Released
2015

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?