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Erin Graham – Cycle for four snare drums

Performed by Lee Vinson, percussion

Cycle for four snare drums has six movements and three acts that explore instrumental colors and the relationships between different drums, each cast as a character in a musical drama. To learn more about how Erin developed this work and chose the snare drums, each with their own unique timbre, see Erin's program note and the interviews below.

Program Note by Erin Graham

Cycle is written for and dedicated to Lee Vinson, whose musicianship and artistic insight I greatly admire. Lee has a vast, comprehensive, and fascinating collection of antique and refurbished snare drums, each with a strong, distinctive personality. I wanted to write a piece that pays tribute to several drums from Lee’s collection that stand out to him, so I asked him to choose a group of drums to be featured in the work. Lee then sent me a demonstration of each drum’s characteristics and attributes – there are four in total. Each instrument was so vibrant and unique that I wanted to create a work that had an almost theatric component, so that the individual drums would almost be treated as characters.  


Cycle is comprised of three acts, each of which contain two movements – one interlude for multiple drums and one solo for a featured drum.  The idea of each act is to have the featured solo drum fight its way out of different rigid textures of the multiple drum interludes.  I tried to strategize ways of freeing each of these drums in ways that complement their personalities. Consequently, the title of each interlude refers to the method each of the solo drums uses to free itself and the title of each solo refers to the way each of the solo drums chooses to express itself once it’s free.  

Performance Photo Gallery
Conversation with Erin
Conversation with Lee
Educational Materials
Listen: Interludes and Solos

Which drum wins? How would you personify them? Listen for their

Dig Deeper: What can it do?

Examine the properties of the objects used and see what they can do.

Create and Make: Repurpose

Look through your house and recycle bin and make a percussion instrument.​


Activities program

Program Sponsors

Amphion Foundation
Tennessee Arts Commission
Metro Arts Nashville
The Alice M. Ditson Fund
Women's Philharmonic Advocacy
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