Posts

Showing posts from September, 2007

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussion

Image
10. Indicating the wrong mallets for an instrument.
Brass mallets on vibes? Try a hammer on a violin!



9. Writing the glockenspiel part as heard.
You shouldn't have to climb a ladder of leger lines to read a glock part. Keep it in the staff.

8. When in doubt, adding more suspended cymbal.
This is a huge mistake made by arrangers. Yep, cymbals add automatic intensity to a piece, but so can a bass drum roll, a rousing hand drum part, exciting mallet licks, or a hundred other combinations. Well-written percussion parts stand out in the band and church repertoire.



7. Better means more complicated, right?
This is my main mistake. A percussion part can be simple enough for a middle school, but it is the ability to use the different tone colors of the percussion palette properly that indicates a maturity in writing, not that impossible part for the timpanist that has them playing timpani, gong, crash cymbals, and triangle in the span of two beats.

6. Never trust Band-in-a-Box to write the timpan…

A Composer's Brief Guide to Percussion Mallets

Image
When composing for percussion, it is important to know the difference between a variety of mallets. Although in most cases the percussionist will choose the proper mallets for the passage, sometimes as a composer, you want a particular sound. It is always good to research a mallet before indicating it in your score. Consult a percussion catalogue for a more in-depth look at the hundreds of mallets available.

1. YARN MALLETS
They come in every dynamic range from supersoft baseball-sized to forte. They are the multi-purpose mallet, used for toms, suspended cymbal rolls, marimba, xylophone, woodblock, and pretty much anytime a percussionist doesn't have time to pick up another mallet.



2. CORD MALLETS
These are harder than the yarn mallets. More effective on xylophone and vibes, these mallets can also be used for a variety of percussion instruments.



3. BRASS MALLETS
These are for use on the glockenspiel/bells and the occasional brake drum. They produce a more "tinny" kind of soun…