First performance: February 1994, Stuttgart
Video: Hungarian Television 1995,
“This psalm is a protest, no song of praise.
Seven two-part verses, five choruses circling.
A protest, no song of worship.
The number 151.
In Memoriam Frank Zappa”
Ritual is part of my nature. I would actually call all of my pieces “rituals”, as gesture and sound appear in absolute unity first in this ancient genre. In “Psalm 151″ the instruments – seven tubular bells, two bell plates and two hump gongs – are placed in a circle, with a bass drum in the middle. During the chorus, the drummer goes around – after having played a verse on the bass drum -, always following the same order: first the tubular bells, then the bell plates, finally the gongs. Then he comes back, plays a verse and again a chorus. This constant circling around the instruments creates a ritual act, in which every gesture, every mallet has a special role. The way in which the bells, plates and gongs are treated was very important to me: on the one hand, they chant (as they have a specific pitch), on the other hand, they are hit just as animals or people are hit, struck.
Even the fur on the bass drum can be regarded as skin that can be caressed, scratched or beaten. This sensuality gives the piece a very special theatrical and ritual form.
The title of the composition refers to the dedication „In memoriam Frank Zappa”. All the 150 psalms of the Bible are songs of worship. In connection with the early, meaningless death of Zappa’s, however, God cannot be praised; one can only protest. As there is no trace of protest in all the 150 psalms, this I named Psalm 151. It is the psalm that is not included in the Bible.
/Peter Eötvös – in conversation with Martin Leber – 1994/
The form of the rite:
– invocation (gongs with fists)
– First verse (bass drum with fingernails)
– First chorus (bells – plates – gongs)
– Second verse (bass drum with mailloche and vibraphone mallets)
– Second chorus (bells – plates – gongs)
– Third verse (bass drum with very thick wooden mallet and superball)
– Third chorus (bell plates – gongs)
– Fourth verse (bass drum with wooden mallets)
– Fifth verse (bass drum with drumsticks)
– Fourth chorus (bells – plates – gongs)
– Sixth verse (bass drum with rod and broom)
– Fifth chorus (bells- plates – gongs)
– Seventh verse (bass drum with finger-nails)