sealPurdue News

March 29, 2002

Cartoon characters cavort in 'BOOMwhackers' percussion show

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner make cameo appearances in "BOOMwhackers," a Sunday, April 14, concert by the Purdue Drum Line and Percussion Ensembles that features innovative music and some surprises.

Set for 3 p.m. in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse, the free 90-minute show is appropriate for all ages.

Drawing inspiration from the Warner Bros. "Merrie Melodies" cartoon "Zoom and Bored," Purdue senior Jack Moreland has created an original percussion piece that will be performed while the cartoon, featuring Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, is projected on a large screen behind the musicians.

Moreland boasts a wide range of percussion experiences in his four years at Purdue, from the raucous atmosphere of Ross-Ade Stadium with the marching band to the controlled excitement of Elliott Hall and the classical concert stage.

"I just wanted to do something different," says the Plymouth, Ind., native, who is majoring in computer graphics technology.

Composing music not only provided the perfect challenge, but also allowed Moreland to combine his passion for percussion with his interest in animation, which he studies for his degree. A sale video of "Merrie Melodies" cartoons provided an action-filled 6:14 bit of zaniness called "Zoom and Bored."

Arranging a bell set – saved from junior high music classes – on his apartment coffee table, Moreland watched the video night after night with the sound down.

"I played the little bells with my fingernails and listened to melodies to see what worked," he says. "I watched it so much, I got to the point where I was dreaming the cartoon. I would wake up in the middle of the night with a melody in my head."

Guided by Purdue percussion instructor Pamela Nave, Moreland aimed at a serious composition, not one dominated by honks, crashes and other goofy sound effects so typical of cartoons.

An ensemble of six percussionists play more than a dozen instruments in "Zoom and Bored," including xylophone, marimba, bells, chimes, timpani, snare drum along with a variety of gongs and cymbals. Musical tempos of up to 240 beats per minute – "Hail Purdue" is 152 beats a minute – match the heightened mood of the cartoon and provide a serious challenge.

"I've worried if they're going to be able to play that fast," Moreland says. "Some of the xylophone runs are just crazy. But the student musicians have proved to be up to the challenge."

The more Moreland worked on the composition, the more he wanted it to communicate something other than fun.

"There are definitely parts of it that are happy, but there are definitely parts that are not. Some parts are almost sad," he says. "The music looks at Wile E. Coyote and the fact that he never wins, that he's always losing, but he keeps getting up and trying again. It took a weird turn like that. I'm glad it went this way. Otherwise it would be just another "Merrie Melodie."

Moreland's original composition is surrounded by other innovative tunes on the concert program. Several numbers are performed in the style of the popular percussion group STOMP, including "Me Tarzan" and "Comic Relief."

Nave will give the audience a chance to try the stunts STOMP pulls off when she directs them in a body percussion number put together especially for this program.

The contemporary numbers are balanced with classical pieces like Rosaurao's "Marimba Concerto." Several xylophone rags, including a solo spot for Nave, are programmed, along with numbers that take a playful approach to serious works. An excerpt from the opera "The Barber of Seville," for instance, will be performed in the style of Bugs Bunny. A percussion ensemble from Harrison High School in West Lafayette also will make a guest appearance.

With the exception of the Harrison ensemble, all ensembles performing in "BOOMwhackers" are part of Purdue University Bands. The Bands department offers more than 20 concerts each school year, focusing on different genres of music. For more information, call (765) 496-6785 or visit the Bands' Web site.

CONTACT: Kathy Matter, (765) 496-6785,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Media interested in interviews should contact Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands Public Relations director, at (765) 496-6785.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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