4th Concerto for Tabla and Percussion Quartet:
I composed the 4th Concerto for Tabla and Percussion Quartet on request from Shawn Mativetsky, Jonathan Ovalle, Anthony Di Sanza, Neeraj Mehta, and Dan Piccolo. These outstanding musicians premiered the piece at the 2013 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in November 2013. The piece includes several traditional, non-improvised tabla compositions that Shawn and I both learned from our tabla guru, Pandit Sharda Sahai. It also includes two compositions that allow for improvisation, as well as one short section that specifies free improvisation.
In a traditional tabla solo performance a person playing a melodic instrument accompanies the tabla soloist. The melodic performer plays a melody that repeats round and round, outlining the rhythmic cycle against which the tabla player creates complicated and elegant rhythmic structures. I have always been interested in hearing the melodic part supported and developed in a way that is only possible with Western notation. Bob Becker wrote a piece called Palta in the 1980s that also explores this idea and set the precedent for my own work. My four concertos for tabla and percussion quartet develop this idea further. This one is dedicated to my friend Akhilesh Gundecha.
—Payton MacDonald, 2013