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How to Write for Percussion
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents Introduction How This Book is Organized Instruments Covered Working with Percussionists Location Specifics The Value of Not Reading This Book 1. General Framework A Dysfunctional Family Comparison of Family Relationships The Problem of Pitch The Pitches of Percussion The Validations and Limitations of Novelty Three Methods for Indeterminately Pitch Instruments The Written/Improv Divide Expanding the Color Palette (to Shrink the Setup) The Value of Improvised and Non-Notated Music Social Composition Write for People, Not Sounds Write What is Wanted, Not What To Do Working with Percussionists 2. General Logistics Instrument Choice and Management Six Stories, Three Sad and Three Happy Why Use Fewer Instruments? How to Consolidate Inexpensive Instruments Exotic Instruments Electronic Percussion Multiple Options for a Specified Instrument Instruments Percussionists May Not Play Multiple Percussionists Section Setup Orchestra Wind Ensemble Broadway Pit Drum Corps and Marching Bands Specialists Non-Percussionists Playing Percussion Chairs and Stands Issues of Playability Excessive Polyphony How Fast Percussionists Can Play Unidiomatic Writing-Music that Often Requires Memorization Dynamics Reaching Instruments Instruments with Pedals Physical Exertion and Shaking Working with Headphones or Headset Microphones 3. General Notation Basics of Percussion Parts and Scores Instrument List Instrument Key Setup Diagram Language Parts Cues Percussion in the Conductor's Score Dynamics Designing a Notational System Clefs Staves Noteheads Mixing Determinately and Indeterminately Pitched Instruments Key Signatures What Goes Where on the Staff The Chicken or the Egg? Unspecified Instruments (Indeterminate Instrumentation) How Much to Notate Systems of Notation for Which There is No Standard Return to a "Normal" Method of Playing Note Length, Articulation, and Phrasing Note Length Chart Exact or Inexact Note-Length Indications Muting (Muffling, Dampening) Dead Stroke Damper Pedals Rolls Notations that are Not Recommended Symbol Notation Altered Keyboard Notation (Timbre-Staff) 4. Beaters To Indicate or Not to Indicate? Beater Lingo Logistical Beater Issues Sticks Mallets Triangle Beaters, Knitting Needles Brushes Rute Chime Hammers Superball Mallet Beaters as Instruments Hands Bows 5. Keyboard Percussion Ranges and Construction Writing for Keyboard Percussion Stacked Instruments Multiple Players Extended Techniques Miscellaneous 6. Drums Sticks on Drums Mallets on Drums Hands on Drums Playing on the Rim or Shell Beating Spot Mutes Pitch Bending Drum Size Two-Headed Drums Multiple Drums in Setups Idiomatic Writing for Drums Timpani Tom-toms Snare Drum, Field Drum, Tenor Drum Concert Bass Drum, Pedal Bass Drum Bongos, Congas Timbales Roto-Toms Frame Drums Tambourines Djembe, Doumbek Boobams Drumset 7. Metal Cymbals Gongs Finger Cymbals Cowbells, Almglocken Temple Bowls, Mixing Bowls Brake Drums, Metal Pipes, Anvils, Bell Plates Thundersheet Junk Metal, Tin Cans, Pots and Pans Ribbon Crasher Spring Coil Church Bells Hand Bells Steel Drums Tambourines Sleighbells Metal Wind Chimes, Mark Tree, Bell Tree Flexatone Extended Techniques 8. Wood Woodblocks, Templeblocks, Log Drum Wooden Planks Wood Drums, Wooden Boxes, Cajon, Mahler Hammer Claves Castanets Rute Guiro Slapstick Ratchet Bamboo Wind Chimes 9. Miscellaneous Instruments Bottles Cabasa Conch Shell Crystal Glasses Maracas, Shakers Rainstick Rice Bowls, Flower Pots Sandpaper Blocks Sirens String Drum, Cuica Stones, Prayer Stones Thumb Piano Vibraslap Wind Chimes Whistles Wind Machine Appendix A. Repertoire Analysis Percussion Ensemble Edgard Varese, Ionisation (1929-31) John Cage, Constructions (1939-1942) Iannis Xenakis, Persephassa (1969) Steve Reich, Drumming (1970-71) Steve Mackey, It is Time (2010) John Luther Adams, Inuksuit (2009) Ryan Streber, Cold Pastoral (2004) Nico Muhly, Ta & Clap (2004) Adam Silverman, Naked and On Fire (2011) Paul Lansky, Travel Diary (2007) Orchestral Bela Bartok Sergei Prokofiev Maurice Ravel Gustav Mahler Dmitri Shostakovich Leonard Bernstein Carl Nielsen Jean Sibelius Wind Ensemble Smaller Mixed Ensemble John Adams, Chamber Symphony (1992) Stephan Hartke, Meanwhile (2007) Jacob Druckman, Come Round (1992) Charles Wuorinen, New York Notes (1982) Pierre Boulez, Sur Incises (1996/1998) Percussion Solo-Drums Michio Kitazume, Side by Side (1991) Elliott Carter, Eight Pieces for Four Timpani (1950/1966) Casey Cangelosi, Meditation No. 1 (2011) Percussion Solo-Keyboards Jacob Druckman, Reflections on the Nature of Water (1986) Paul Simon, Amulet (2008) Steve Mackey, See Ya Thursday (1992) Steve Swallow/Gary Burton, I'm Your Pal/Hullo Bolinas Donald Martino, Soliloquy (2003) Percussion Solo-Multi-Percussion Iannis Xenakis, Psappha (1975) David Lang, Anvil Chorus (1991) Roger Reynolds, Watershed (1995) Four Pieces for "Setup #1" Nico Muhly, It's About Time (2004) Michael Early, Raingutter (2007) Marcos Balter, Descarga (2006) Judd Greenstein, We Shall Be Turned (2006) Percussion Concerto James MacMillan, Veni Veni Emmanuel (1992) Einojuhani Rautavaara, Incantations (2008) Steven Mackey, Micro-Concerto (1999) Orchestrating Native Sounds Appendix B. Sample Setups Appendix C. Extended Techniques Return to a "Normal" Method of Playing Manipulations of Timbre Striking Unusual Parts of an Instrument Unusual Usage of Beaters Dead Stroke Beating Spot Bowing Friction Roll Scrape Prepared Instruments Pitch Bending Vibrato Adding Mass Sympathetic Resonance Clusters Harmonics Appendix D. Pitch Specification Appendix E. Dynamics Appendix F. Register Appendix G. Beaters Appendix H. Percussion Family Tree Pitch Clarity Chart Note Length Chart Register Chart Sound Production Chart The Percussion Family Tree

About the Author

Samuel Z. Solomon teaches percussion at The Boston Conservatory, Boston University, and The BU Tanglewood Institute. He is author of the acclaimed book, How To Write For Percussion, as well as three books on percussion playing and was curator of two collections of percussion etudes and solos. Solomon is founding member of the Yesaroun' Duo and the Line C3 percussion group, and is principal timpanist of the Amici New York chamber orchestra. Please visit www.szsolomon.com for more.

Reviews

"This is simply the best book on composing for percussion music out there. Solomon anticipates every question that a composer might have concerning the practical, physical and expressive ramifications of making sound by hitting things. The previous version was a fixture on my desk and this new edition with its media upgrades will be my manual for teaching."--Steven Mackey, Professor of Music, Princeton University, Grammy Award-winning composer "Percussion isn't a particular thing; it is a lifetime of learning that can never be completely known. Mr. Solomon's deeply thoughtful work is essential to my work, an invaluable guide, an extraordinary accomplishment."--Matthew Duvall, multi-Grammy-winning percussionist with eighth blackbird "Here is a volume which is truly practical, for Sam Solomon is a very fine performer and writes from a practitioner's point of view, giving advice which is invaluable to all of us...This is a "musician's book" and a true contribution to the literature of orchestration."--Samuel Adler, Professor Emeritus, Eastman School of Music, Excerpt from the Foreword to How To Write For Percussion (First Edition)

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