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Showing posts from September, 2007

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussion

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

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.

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.

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.

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