Knott Tones

Sean Noonan Rhythmic Storyteller

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Drummer/composer and rhythmic storyteller Sean Noonan releases Knott Tones features new compositions for drumkit and strings featuring the U.K.-based Ligeti Quartet

Drummer and composer Sean Noonan has long preferred the term “Rhythmic Storyteller” to describe his audacious, genre-defiant artistry. As a modern-day sonic griot he combines the most

Drummer/composer and rhythmic storyteller Sean Noonan releases Knott Tones features new compositions for drumkit and strings featuring the U.K.-based Ligeti Quartet

Drummer and composer Sean Noonan has long preferred the term “Rhythmic Storyteller” to describe his audacious, genre-defiant artistry. As a modern-day sonic griot he combines the most ancient of traditions with forward-seeking experimentation; as a kind of post-modern wandering minstrel he gathers irreverent folk tales and offbeat inspirations from various cultures and translates them through his own singular worldview.

Knott Tones is a collision of new music composition and free improvisation, written for string quartet and drum kit and inspired in part by comedy legend Don Knotts.

“I always want to take a listener or an audience on a journey into new worlds,” Noonan says of his always-unpredictable output. “I try to constantly explore different topics and new places.”

Knott Tones features the U.K.-based Ligeti Quartet. An acclaimed string ensemble devoted to modern composers and innovative programming, the quartet features violinists Mandhira De Saram and Patrick Dawkins, violist Richard Jones, and cellist Valeria Welbanks (with guest violinist Alicja Pilarczyk stepping in for De Saram on Knott Tones).

Knott Tones, meanwhile, is an outgrowth of “Don Knotts,” a Noonan composition originally recorded on Drumavox. A self-described “member of the Three’s Company generation,” Noonan composed the piece based on a 12-tone row and dedicated to the late comedian – an unlikely inspiration for such intricate music, but perhaps Noonan recognized the stellar grace and timing essential to any successful physical comedian.

The five pieces on the album employ polytemporal rhythmic ideas from composer Conlon Nancarrow’s “Studies for Player Piano,” a key source of inspiration for Noonan. “Nancarrow is one of one of my favorite American composers,” Noonan says. “I spent a lot of time studying his output of music for player piano.”

The unconventional instrumentation on Knott Tones – drumkit and string quartet – allowed Noonan to reimagine the narrative and melodic potential of his rhythmic ideas. “I treat the quartet like it's an extension of the drum kit,” he explains. “My two legs and two arms are almost like the cello, viola and two violins. So I tried to visualize ways that the quartet’s playing could come out of what I would be naturally playing on the drum set. Sometimes that means transcribing my rhythmic language, though often it’s more abstract than that.”

Expected release: February 21, 2022

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