Percussion deux

I didn’t want to put this tangent in the other post, but as I was writing it, I was thinking, “Compared to being a rock drummer (or better yet, jazz), it really sucks to be a classical percussionist.” The reason that there are a ton of classical orchestral pieces that don’t have them is that they’re not really necessary in an orchestra. The conductor establishes the beat and everything is notated. Compared to drumming for anything else, it’s a really boring job.
But then I thought about some of these new pieces, especially minimalist pieces, that have extremely complex patterns. They often have some kind of pulse, from the pulses of In C and Music for 18 Musicians to the woodblock in John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Maybe as composers explore more complex (and fast) beat patterns, there will be more of a rôle for the classical percussionist.

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