Composers Forum________Music

Program Notes:Music for Percussion




I was assigned to write a drum piece that could be played by either a drummer or the whole percussion section of our school band. This was my first piece that was a substantial amount of time. This drum piece is in four-four time. It uses a lot of permutation, retrograde, and repetition through out the piece. The material consists of mostly quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes. This composition uses a bass drum, snare drum, two tom drums, crash cymbal, and a shaker. It also has 47 measures and is about a minute and half in length.

The style period I thought my drum piece was most related to was the Late Middle Ages: Ars Antiqua-Ars Nova ( 1100- 1430). This period is called Gothic. It is the rise and development of the polyphonic forms and the merging of secular and sacred musical styles. Leonius and Perotin were the first composers to develop the basic rules of polyphony. The simple note values in the Late Middle Ages made me pick this time period to be most similar to my drum composition.

I liked many parts in my piece, even though it had a simple beat. I mostly liked the repetition and the way I changed from part to part. If I needed to change something I might have one more instrument but no more than that so its not too confusing. If I had to rewrite this piece I would have a simple but interesting beat then I would add more complex drum patterns. Also, I would change the amount of times the crash cymbal is hit because I think there is too much of the cymbal at some points in the piece. I learned that the drums can make a very interesting composition if the material is ear catching, even if there is a simple melody.

In the twentieth century chamber music pieces were composed to be played by two to fifteen performers. These performers used many percussion instruments especially those with tuned bars. Also, instruments used in ancient times were used again in these performances. The twentieth century music gave composers a prime area for musical expressions. This is closely related too my composition because of the percussion instruments that are used in chamber music.