Improving the practice and performance of contemporary music

Mani. De Leonardis

text written autumn 2011 by Tom De Cock

General information

  • Percussion solo for 4 automobile springs (3x car, 1x bus) and 2 glass bowls
  • duration 18’
  • Commissioned by the Südwestrundfunk
  • First performance in 2004 by Christian Dierstein
  • You can order the score online by sending an email to

In Mani. De Leonardis the rhythmic essence of the vibrating bodies – suspensions, glasses, player’s body and voice – interconnects parallel sound planes. From the ultimate energy of the percussion on the suspensions, to the feeble sound of the glass (the percussionist utilizes two wooden hammers and one iron hammer), the hand never changes. What changes is the impulse that drives it, either violent or light at times. The hand varies the contact with the instrument, amplifying its possible modes and disclosing the full vibration potential, and at the same time our way of hearing.

The title of the piece is reminiscent of Federico De Leonardis (La Spezia, 1938) and his notion of “hand wisdom”, that is the awareness of “learned-making” the hand possesses. Here, Billone deals with the problem of novelty through a radical approach. As exemplified in this piece, Billone’s music does not proceed along a well-trodden path. Instead, his music seems to start from the Holzwege (1) where only the a few can recognize the direction and find a way through the twists and turns. Even when it deals with well-known instruments, the sound Billone seeks for tends to go beyond the usual practice. It reconsiders every possible connection between the player’s vibrating-bodies and the instrument’s vibrating-bodies (string, resonant cavity etc.). In Mani. De Leonardis an object designated for a different use reveals sound spaces that were never heard before. Like in Giacometti’s sculpture in which two bronze hands hold the void (L’objet invisible, 1934), the absence, the energy that is suspended and retained, here Billone confers to the hands the power to release the unheard. (2)

Tom De Cock explains what different difficulties you as a performer will encounter when you approach the percussion repertoire of Pierluigi Billone. He also explains his solutions to tackle these problems.

Practical difficulties
Technical difficulties
Interpretational difficulties


  1. HEIDEGGER, Martin, “Holzwege”, Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, 1977
  2. Text reproduced with permission from
  3. All sketches that were used in the text are taken from the scores and the legends of the described pieces. © Pierluigi Billone.