A madrigal comedy for three percussionists, speakers, recorded material and projection. The form is borrowed from Orazio Vecchi's 1597 madrigal comedy L'Amfiparnaso, while the musical material is inspired by the sounds of rural Cameroon. Premiered in April 2006 in The Hague (Netherlands) by the percussion ensemble Ear Massage.
The king of Bandjoun, a city-state in Cameroon, has died of a mysterious illness away from his country. This is a disgrace for the city. Could the explanation lie in Cameroon's unique mix of local politics and witchcraft? The piece offers no answer: the story is delivered in 18 short episodes consisting of ambiguous omens and rumors.
The madrigal comedy is a 16th-century theatrical genre in which performers do not correspond to specific characters, unlike in a classical opera. Since this is a work for percussion instruments, the madrigals involve a polyphony of timbre rather than pitch.
The piece requires an anvil, wood blocks, a temple block, a conga, a plastic bag, castanets, claves, a thunder sheet, crash cymbals, maracas, a xylophone, a timpani, a bass drum, a ratchet, a Jew's harp, a glass filled with eight AA batteries, a snare drum, a flexatone, a suspended cymbal, a thumb piano on a shoebox full of bottle caps and an amplified bucket filled with water.