“Just a Step Away” gets its name, as well as its dark and colorful tones, from one of my favorite synthetic scales: an Fmaj7 chord with half steps above each chord tone. The spelling of the scale is F, G-flat, A, B-flat, C, D-flat, E. This piece is all about balancing stability and flexibility in harmony as well as expression. The major triads using scale degrees 1-3-5 and 2-4-6 combine with five different half-step pairs so that almost any note can feel like home, while never allowing the piece to settle completely.
Featured also in this piece is the augmented triad (F, A, C-sharp/D-flat). The triad fits the scale, and the addition of a half step above any of the three notes creates a minor seventh chord: G-flat min7, B-flat min7, or D min7. Reading and learning the piece will be much easier if you practice the scale and augmented triad before beginning.
The numerous expressive indications are guidelines to the generally shifting nature of the piece. Performers are encouraged to sing and breathe in every passage, and find the tension and relaxation of each gesture for themselves. The descriptive dynamics at the top are intended to tie an expressive intent to each resonant zone on the instrument. No instrument or number of mallets is specified, and the piece could be played on almost anything with any combination of mallets. The resonant character of each instrument would naturally change interpretive decisions significantly, and some written indications could reasonably be changed or disregarded.
R!Solo: “Just a Step Away” for Solo Keyboard Percussion by Daniel J. Krumm. from Percussive Arts Society on Vimeo.
Daniel J Krumm is a percussionist of wide-ranging experience. Equally at home in the symphony orchestra, musical theatre ensemble, samba bateria, salsa band, folklorico, djembefola, chamber ensemble, solo stage, or teaching studio, he brings a diverse array of skills and sensibilities to any situation. Having received formal training in percussion during his undergraduate studies at Iowa State University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dan is now living and working in central Iowa. He can be heard on Matthew Coley’s CD Souvenirs, Neil Thornock’s CD Between the Lines, and the Heartland Marimba Festival’s inaugural CD, Heartland Marimba Dances.