Second Reconstruction (2009), a solo for prepared vibraphone, was commissioned by Drew Johnson and was premiered at the University of South Carolina in 2009.
The work is lightly based on John Cage’s percussion quartet of 1940 titled Second Construction. The original work is a prime example of how Cage used rhythm to help form a basis for compositional devices and formal structure. In essence, Second Construction is a theme and variation of sorts but with an effective Cagean twist. The original quartet does not employ a vibraphone, or any “melodic” instruments for that mater, but it does represent an early exploration into Cage’s use of the prepared piano (in this case a percussive instrument). In his earlier compositions dating from the late 1930s and early 1940s, Cage considered the prepared piano a percussion orchestra (I believe the exact quote is “a percussion orchestra at your fingertips”). By implementing subtle preparations to the vibraphone, we are able to transform the often heard metallic sounds of this instrument into a distorted percussion instrument.