Chuck Ricotta wrote Blinker as a follow-up to Sofapilla, another large ensemble work of his. That work aimed to develop students’ pulse control skills while playing overlapping ensemble polyrhythms. Soon after creating this exercise, Ricotta was inspired to expand upon this concept, leading to Blinker (named after the familiar sound of a vehicle’s turn signal).
Beginning with a steady pulse, the piece quickly builds into a densely-layered texture of orchestrated polymeters. Elements of post-minimalism are explored, drawing from simple harmonic ideas to weave a fabric of sound reminiscent of John Adams. Ricotta aims to take the listener on a musical journey through a dreamlike state, suspended in time, before ultimately returning to the familiar pulse from the beginning.
From an educational standpoint, Ricotta designed the individual parts to vary in difficulty and cover a range of experience levels. Some multipercussion parts may be doubled or split between players depending on the needs of the ensemble. The marimba parts may be performed on shared instruments, and two of these parts may optionally be covered by a single player holding 4 mallets. Plenty of optional notes are indicated in the score to cover all possible player configurations. All in all, this work is highly engaging for the listener and ideal for intermediate-level percussion ensemble concerts!