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This Is Not A Box


7 minutes; for Solo Cajón

Bringing a non-traditional instrument such as the cajón into an art music setting requires a measure of cultural awareness and sensitivity. The freshness of a ‘rare’ instrument is often appreciated. Yet, when making attempts to expand beyond euro-centric instrumentation and stylings, new additions sometimes get stripped of their own history and backgrounds. Performing the cajón in a concert hall is itself a political act; it is crucial such an act be handled respectfully.

Given the cajón’s early history as a banned slave instrument, this piece draws from the rhythms of traditionally African American popular music genres such as Hip-Hop and Jazz, musics which themselves have a history of being banned and appropriated. Other influences include Drum ‘n’ Bass, a rhythmic genre with roots in British Afro-Caribbean dance club music.

Commissioned by Trevor Hall on the occasion of Dr. Daniel Kennedy’s retirement from California State University, Sacramento. Premiered in 2019 by percussionist Trevor Hall.

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