Percussionists!A brass instrument player needs your advice!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Rambo Chick, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. Rambo Chick

    Rambo Chick Member

    Hi there percussion afficionados!

    I have an arrangement of a piece of music and it has a BIG percussion part.
    I want to know how best to set out Tenor Drum, Cymbals and Triangle.

    At the moment they each have their own stave, but would it be better to condense them onto one three-line stave? And in which order? i.e. cymbals on the top line etc..:confused:

    please help if you can!

    very grateful humble brass player
  2. blasterbates

    blasterbates Member

    Are there any other things to hit or just the three items you mentioned?
    (Also, is it a right-handed triangle or left-handed?)
    Best advice I can give is that you'll find the steering wheel in a French taxi is usually on the other side lol :biggrin:
  3. Rambo Chick

    Rambo Chick Member

    Yes there's a timp part

    It's actually an ambidextrous triangle. yeah it's a really great technique. You play right handed, and the triangle is fitted with a rotational device (stringus longus) and it rotates as required for left hand.....:biggrin:
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2007
  4. blasterbates

    blasterbates Member

  5. Depends what level your playeras in mind are. It's often easier to have the perc part on one stave unless it's heavily scored. If there is a lot of tom work, keep it separate like timp is and put the tri and cym together.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Depends very much on the parts themselves I would say, and on how many players you have available.

    The tenor drum is written usually on the "C" line of a treble clef stave or if has to be played in conjuction with a snare drum then it is often written on the "A" or "F" below. Consistency is the key!

    Cymbal get written on the "E" above he snare line or the "G" above the stave itself.

    The triangle seems to get stuck in all sorts of stupid places but is often found on the same line as the cymbals, written as an "X" or sometimes as normal note. Just make sure you mark the parts up as clearly and carefully as possible.

    Dont bother trying to mark them up in florid Italian as if you are Pallestrina! Always think more along lines of the Percy Grainger style, plain old Anglo Saxon.

    Personally I always find it best to use the very bare minimum of percussion players for a number of reasons......

    1. It sets the players a logistical problem to solve, gets them more interested in the music. If you get in a third player simply to whack a gong in the last four bars, or play a few dings on the triangle in the slow movement it makes for a very boring few weeks prior to a contest!

    2. If you have two busy players, or one very busy player! as apposed to three bored players, they simply dont feel engaged with the piece of music and mistakes are (in my view) more likely to happen when a player is bored.

    Personally speaking I love to set myself a challenge and play as many parts myself as I possibly can. I enjoy building myself a new "instrument" for a test piece made up of all the different percussion items I need.

    I always try to get everything mounted or fixed to a stable base or stand in a semicircle round me, if its fixed or clamped you cant drop it! and it saves you valuable time when needing a quick change from one instrument to another.

    My other piece of advice to your and your skin bashers is this. Have a really careful look at the parts, make an effort to see what you could do to cut down on the numbers of players. Often some critical log jam in the score may look impossible to overcome, but its amazing how much time you can find to move quickly if you just give it a bit if thought and practice.

    Me? ignorant? cynical? sarcastic? never anything positive to contribute?.......

    Surely not!!
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - takes note ... combine tubular bells and timpani into one part :rolleyes:

    Are there any decent text books for percussion notation and writing?
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Good question Necky, I suppose there must be one out there on t'internet, but I have never seen or used one myself. My knowledge is based on 35 years of reading other peoples attempts at it, rather than any accademic study.

    This business of percussion writing and composers is an interesting one. As far as I know, composers for brass would not think for a moment of writing a part completely out of the range of any particular instrument, neither would they expect a brass player to play two instuments at the same time. In both cases the editor would point these errors out to the composer and expect them to be rectified.

    It is of course a different story when it comes to percussion. Quite often, it is quite clear that no thought what so ever, has gone in to the practicalities of physical performance of the percussion parts. It logically follows that the editor does not give a monkies either. Why is this so often the case?
  9. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    The best text book is to talk to a decent percussionist in my opinion! :)
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I think most have been there and bought the t-shirt as well! ;) I just find it hard to believe that there is no universal agreement on standard notation, especially for kit! I tend to source books written for ryhthm section nowadays to get the basics.
  11. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I tend to use quite a lot of words at the start of a piece and then stick to the same notation all the way through the piece. THe last piece I've written is Boost, for Sax Quartet and Percussion Duo... I tend to use different note heads for rim so you don't have to keep writing rim, and changing the number of lines to make it clear to the performer... especially when it changes to 5 toms.
  12. I have to say that for lower sections, look carefully to make sure there are not three notes on the part at the same time which need three separate players. I have often found that you get parts which need 2 and a half players as mentioned above - 1 very bored player or the note not going in at all can be frustrating, especially for a contest.
  13. weenie

    weenie Member

    I suppose it's all down to the individual who's playing it. Some percussionists (including myself) prefer to have a seperate part for each instrument, however, some people like to have it in score form so they can highlite his/her own part (which is lazy I know) and can lead to a lot of page turning!
  14. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Personally I have no problem reading from a single part from which I have to extract my own line. I think this is benificial as it helps to make you feel more of a team and of course enables you to see where your collegues parts fit in. This is not always possible of course,and depends on how "busy" the individual parts are.

    Dizzy mentions the frustration of parts being missed out in contests. I am just as much a perfectionist as any other skin basher on the circuit when it comes to contests (ask anyone who has worked with me!) but there are occasions when certain "tricks" have to be used when, as Dizzy puts it, the music is written for "two and a half percussion players".

    Its all about persuading the adjudicator he has heard something when he has not!

    A classic situation is when the composer, having kept three intruments played separately throughout a piece, suddenly wants all three played simultaneously. This can of course screw up your "two player plan" for the contest, and i have frequently seen bands get in one extra player JUST to negotiate that one or two bars in a test piece.

    The solution is easy, pick the one instrument thats the loudest and just hit that and miss out the one that cant be heard anyway. If you have a big cymbal crash included, its just pointless playing anything else at the same time, and the adjudicator will be none the wiser.

    I have lots of tricks like this, but you will have to wait for my book to come out to know the rest, its called "Crooks and Lyres., to pull the wool over the adjudicators ears"
  15. MissRepiano

    MissRepiano New Member

    You should patent that idea, I think you could be onto a winner!!! :D

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