Here's my first installment in response to John Homan's recent email (Sept. 9 post):
Creating A Percussion Part
If you find yourself composing a part from scratch, here are some questions that will aid the process.
When I discern the style of the music, I begin to think about the instruments that are common to that style (while not limiting my thinking to only those instruments).
- Should I try to use only instruments that are common to that style?
- Is this a situation where I am free to think outside the box? Will I be allowed to try some sounds not usually associated with this particular style?
If there is also a drum set player:
- Are the patterns coming from the drum set fairly standard patterns for that style or is the drummer trying something original?
- What instruments on the drum set are being played?
- What instruments,rhythms, and frequencies will complement the drum set part?
- Where is the drummer playing a fill? Where is the musically logical place for the percussion part to drop out before the fill? Where do I reenter after the fill?
- Does the drum set ever drop out? Would this be a good spot to add percussion or enter a bit later to give another element of interest?
If there is no drum set player (just lil’ ol’ me playing percussion):
- Should my patterns be more standard or does the situation call for originality?
- Do I need to play time throughout or are there sections where I can play “color” ...or drop out?
- Are there highs, lows, or mid frequencies that are not being covered by the other instruments of the rhythm section? Should I try to cover that area?
I am also listening to how the other instruments of the ensemble and the overall arrangement and orchestration.
- Where are the climaxes? Are there breakdowns?
- What percussion instruments, rhythms, and frequencies will complement the texture of the ensemble as a whole?
- Are some fills at the ends of phrases being played by an instrument other that the drum set (bass, keyboard)? Where are my exit and reentry points or do I play through the fill?
- Do I really need to play in every section of the song?
- Am I playing too much?
- Could this song possibly work without percussion?
- Does the music call for “groove percussion” or “coloristic percussion” or both?
- Is my part interesting and enhancing without being distracting?
Stay tuned for Part 2