Michel van der Aa / Works / 


Menu button


Dark Light

Wake composed in 1997, is commedia dell’arte for a percussionist and a percussionist who mimes. Van der Aa examined to what degree visual and audible parts could interfere in a virtual canon. Both percussionists ‘play’ the same material after each other. Wake has a sort of “Pierrot” humour. The miming player has a tragicomic role of a floundering percussionist who really wants to succeed but helplessly flails his arms about in the air. The failed attempt to catch up with his companion and the idle hope of a resounding result gives this humorist piece a tragic undertone. You see his part on the stage; you hear virtual labour pains in your head.

The instrumentation of the two players is almost identical, their function within the piece however differs a lot. One of the percussionists mimes the entire piece, he only makes the striking movements, the instruments aren’t touched. The other player does touch the instruments. The material in Wake is exposed audible and visually. The connection of the two players becomes clear by combining the inner hearing (translating the pretend movement to a sound) and the acoustic hearing. It’s not important thát the player mimes but what he mimes, a remembrance to the material of the other player. Halfway through the piece these remembrances develop into an autonomous form and the mime player starts to influence the other player more and more.

There is also a version for one player called Solo for percussion, published by Donemus .


excerpt material from ‘Wake’, Joey Marijs


for percussion duo

2 percussionists with an identical set-up:

5 Chinese Tom toms
Log drums




First performance

12 December 1997
De IJsbreker, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Commissioned by

Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst


Boosey & Hawkes


Last performance

4 August 2013


Eduardo Leandro & Ji Hye Jung, percussion

The Big Barn, Putney, VT, U.S.A.

All performances of Wake