Opus 976

Suite for Hammerchord (2012)

for Hammerchord

  • Prelude
  • Plaint
  • Estampie

Carson Cooman, hammerchord

Duration: 7.5 min.

Dedication: for Bob Cunningham

Publisher: Soundspells Productions

Contact the composer regarding perusal or performance materials.

Suite for Hammerchord (2012) was written for a musical instrument invented in 2002 by Robert Cunningham of Atlanta, Georgia. The Cunningham Hammerchord (U.S. Patent #6740800) is a keyboard-based stringed instrument employing a unique hammered striking mechanism to produce a tremolo sound reminiscent of the hammered dulcimer or the balalaika. The inventor describes it as follows: “A finger presses a key on the instrument, a hammer propels upward from a string and returns immediately downward from a back-check attached to the key. The hammer then strikes the string and rebounds in tremolo sounding of the note. The speed and pressure of finger touch set the loudness of the note, as in the piano, and the desired tremolo tempo.”

In this work, it is intended that the player will take advantage of the expressive possibilities of the instrument to bring out the music’s character and to shape its phrases.

No specific requirements are given, but the first and second movement might employ gentler sounds and slower tremolo speeds. In the second movement, it is suggested that the gravity-assisted decrescendo (tilting the body of the instrument downward) be employed to color some of the longer, sustained chords (mm. 1, 3, etc.) The third movement should be energetic, with vigorous tremolos.