limina, for two pianos and percussion (1996), was composed as an exploratory diversion between larger projects. The title, “thresholds,” is meant to suggest points of transition or spaces between categories.
There are two sections; the longer and more eventful first is in duple metre and features a pop-like, four-chord progression in A major. The second is in triple metre and A-flat major, with an outro-like quality. The transition between sections introduces more complex harmonies and a percussion break.
All of the music is built around the initial melodic pattern, a loop that descends in fifths and ascends back to its starting point in fourths. This line is in fact the opening chord unfolded horizontally, and it becomes the rhythmic motor, layered against itself in canon. The final chord is the same as the opening one, though transposed down a semitone.
Composed and recorded August 1996, Korg 01/WFD Remixed May 2017
Photo: composer, 1997
Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2017
Bruce A. Russell aka Ibrahim El Mahboob (b. Kingston, ON, 1968) is a composer and self-taught pianist living and working in Toronto (Tkarón:to, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat). He studied at York University with James Tenney and Phillip Werren. He has composed music for the Madawaska String Quartet, Modern Times Stage Company, McMaster Dancers and choreographers Pam Johnson and Tracy Renee Stafford. Interest in his work increased in 2020, with performances by Arraymusic, Prism Percussion, Second Note Duo, San Juan Symphony and Idaho Falls Symphony. He was host of Radio Music Gallery, and has written for Musicworks and I Care if You Listen. His interests are in 20th and 21st century concert music especially postminimalism, and music of the African diaspora including notated and non-notated forms. He is a parent of three and is employed in the financial sector.