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Performer Guides: Percussion

Use this guide to find resources for music performance, including LC call number browsing ranges for repertoire, books, and journals..

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Finding Repertoire for Percussion:

If you're looking for new repertoire to perform, it is often helpful to browse the Music Library's scores. The following call number ranges are for percussion music; individual works within these numbers are arranged alphabetically by composer or arranger:

M145-M175, Percussion solos (including some electronic instruments)

  • M146, drum(s) [timpani, drum set, side drum, etc.; works for 1 performer on 2 or more instruments]
  • M147, bells, glockenspiel, etc.
  • M172, carillons, chimes
  • M175 .X6, xylophone, vibraharp, vibraphone
  • M175 .X9, marimba
  • M284-M285, Percussion and piano
  • M1038, Percussion with orchestra (full score)
  • M1039, Percussion with orchestra (piano reduction)
  • M1138, Percussion with string orchestra (full score)
  • M1139, Percussion with string orchestra (piano reduction)
  • M1366, Jazz ensembles

Etudes and instructional materials are classified in the MT range and housed in the same location as books about music (MLs):

  • MT655 - General Works
  • MT655.2 - Systems and Methods
  • MT655.3 - Studies and Exercises
  • MT655.4 - Orchestral Studies

Digital Score Apps:

The Wilson Music Library provides Blair students, faculty, and staff with free access to nkoda and Henle through our subscription. Follow the instructions below to start using these popular apps today.

Books on Percussion:

Cover of Practical Percussion with a collage of different percussion instruments in the background.

Practical Percussion: A Guide to the Instruments and Their Sources

Contents: Introduction -- The instruments -- The orchestral percussion section -- The percussionist as soloist and in ensembles -- Writing and publishing music for percussion instruments -- Percussion in education -- Percussion manufacturers and suppliers -- The Percussive Arts Society -- List of works.

Cover of Percussion Pedagogy with color photographs of timpani, bongos, cymbals, and a snare drum.

Percussion Pedagogy: A Practical Guide for Studio Teachers

In Percussion Pedagogy, author Michael Udow offers a practical guide for students interested in teaching percussion as well as improving their technique. Udow first introduces the bouncing ball system, a technical analogy that teaches students to resist the effects of inertia. Throughout the book, the bouncing ball analogy develops into a core performance principle based on integrated motions resulting in refined tone quality and meaningful musicianship. The book applies this principle to several instruments including snare drum, timpani, marimba, vibraphone, multiple-percussion,tambourine and triangle, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tams, and a variety of Western concert and world percussion repertoire. In particular, Udow addresses the importance of coupling stroke types with stickings to set the foundation for precise rhythmic playing and expressive musicality.

Cover of the Cambridge Companion to Percussion with a close-up of a person playing snare drum against a black background.

The Cambridge Companion to Percussion

Percussion music is both the oldest and most recent of musical genres and exists in diverse forms throughout the world. This Companion explores percussion and rhythm from the perspectives of performers, composers, conductors, instrument builders, scholars, and cognitive scientists. Topics covered include percussion in symphony orchestras from the nineteenth century to today and the development of percussion instruments in chapters on the marimba revolution, the percussion industry, drum machines, and the effect of acoustics. Chapters also investigate drum set playing and the influences of world music on Western percussion, and outline the roles of percussionists as composers, conductors, soloists, chamber musicians, and theatrical performers. Developments in scientific research are explored in chapters on the perception of sound and the evolution of musical rhythm. This book will be a valuable resource for students, percussionists, and all those who want a deeper understanding of percussion music and rhythm.

Cover of Timpani and Percussion with three photographs of the instrument at various stages of development.

Timpani and Percussion

A history of percussion instruments from the Old Stone Age to the present day. Jeremy Montagu, a performer, historian, and curator of musical instruments, discusses common and uncommon percussion instruments from all parts of the world, tracing their development and use through the ages and across cultures.

Cover of The Drum: A History with a color photograph of various drums in the center and text in black.

The Drum: A History

In The Drum: A History, drummer, instructor, and blogger Matt Dean details the earliest evidence of the drum from all regions of the world, looking at cave paintings, statues, temple reliefs, burial remains, even existing relics of actual drums that have survived for thousands of years. Highlighting the different uses and customs associated with drumming, Dean examines how the drum developed across many cultures and over thousands of years before it became the instrument we know today. A celebration of this remarkable instrument, The Drum explores how war, politics, trade routes, and religion influenced the instrument's development. Bringing its history to the present, Dean considers the modern cultural and commercial face of the drum, detailing its role in military settings and the creation of the modern drum kit, as well as the continuing evolution of the drum, manufacturers, and the increased dependence on electronic drums, sampling machines* and drum recorders. Finally, drum fans will have at their fingertips the biographies of great drummers and major drumming achievements in the history of performance. Book jacket.

Cover of the Artistry of Afro-Cuban Bata Drumming with a color picture depicting hands of different colors on drums.

The Artistry of Afro-Cuban Batá Drumming: Aesthetics, Transmission, Bonding, Creativity

An iconic symbol and sound of the Lucumí/Santería religion, Afro-Cuban batá are talking drums that express the epic mythological narratives of the West African Yoruba deities known as orisha. By imitating aspects of speech and song, and by metaphorically referencing salient attributes of the deities, batá drummers facilitate the communal praising of orisha in a music ritual known as a toque de santo. In The Artistry of Afro-Cuban Batá Drumming, Kenneth Schweitzer blends musical transcription, musical analysis, interviews, ethnographic descriptions, and observations from his own experience as a ritual drummer to highlight the complex variables at work during a live Lucumí performance. 

Cover of Drumming Asian America with black and white photograph of two Taiko drummers and text in blue.

Drumming Asian America: Taiko, Performance, and Cultural Politics

Using ethnographic and historical approaches, combined with in-depth performance description and analysis, this book explores the connections between taiko and Asian American cultural politics. Based on original and archival interviews, as well as the author's extensive experience as a taiko player, this book highlights the Midwest as a site for Asian American cultural production and makes embodied experience central to inquiries about identity, including race, gender, and sexuality. The book builds on insights from the fields of dance studies, ethnomusicology, performance studies, queer and feminist theory, and Asian American studies to argue that taiko players from a variety of identity positions perform Asian America on stage, as well as in rehearsals, festivals, schools, and through interactions with audiences. While many taiko players play simply for the love of its dynamism and physicality, this book demonstrates that politics are built into even the most mundane aspects of rehearsing and performing.

Cover of I Drum, Therefore I Am with a color photograph of a drummer playing a drumset during a recording session.

I Drum, Therefore I Am: Being and Becoming a Drummer

Drawing on data collected from in-depth interviews and questionnaires, Gareth Dylan Smith explores the identities, practices and learning of teenage and adult kit drummers in and around London. As a London-based drummer and teacher of drummers, Smith uses his own identity as participant-researcher to inform and interpret other drummers' accounts of their experiences. Drummers learn in multi-modal ways, usually with a keen awareness of exemplars of their art and craft. The world of kit drumming is highly masculine, which presents opportunities and challenges to drummers of both sexes. Smith proposes a new model of the 'Snowball Self', which incorporates the constructs of identity realization, learning realization, meta-identities and contextual identities. Kit drummers' identities, practices and learning are found to be intertwined, as drummers exist in a web of interdependence. Drummers drum; therefore they are, they do, and they learn - in a rich tapestry of means and contexts.

Cover of Steel Drums and Steel Bands with pale blue, orange, and teal square on the left and a color photograph of a steel band performing on the right.

Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History

Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History is a vivid account of the events that led to the "accidental" invention of the steel drum: the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century. Angela Smith walks readers through the evolution of the steel drum from an object of scorn and tool of violence to one of the most studied, performed, and appreciated musical instruments today. Smith explores the development of the modern steelband, from its roots in African slavery in early Trinidad to the vast array of experiments in technological innovation and to the current explosion of steelbands in American schools. The book offers insights directly from major contributors of the steelband movement with sections devoted exclusively to pioneers and innovators. Drawing on seven years of research, repeated trips to the birthplace of the steel drum, Trinidad, and interviews with steelband pioneers, Smith takes readers far beyond the sunny associations of the steel drum with island vacations, cruise ships, and multiple encores of "Yellow Bird." Digging deep into Trinidad's history--a tale of indigenous extermination and African slavery, of French settlement and Spanish and British colonialism before mid-century independence--Smith weaves an unforgettable narrative of talking drums, kalinda stick fights, tamboo bamboo bands, iron bands, calypso, Carnival, and the U. S. military. 

Pale blue cover of Modern Etudes and Studies with white circles and a color photograph of a percussion ensemble.

Modern Etudes and Studies for the Total Percussionist

In Modern Etudes and Studies for the Total Percussionist, band director and percussionist Chris Colaneri lays out a comprehensive system of total percussion education. The lessons are gleaned from interviews, research, and the nearly two decades he has spent directing middle school band and percussion ensembles. Where the first edition of the book addressed total percussion education for the seventh-grade student and included simple audio examples and practice tracks, this expanded second edition meets needs of sixth- through eighth-grade percussion students, helping them develop intermediate skills for future participation in a high school or extracurricular band setting.Music examples throughout are carefully sized for easy reading, and students will find more information about equipment they should own, world percussion techniques, and famous percussionists. Developed with the practical needs of percussion teachers in mind, Modern Etudes has been extensively classroom tested and provides key teaching aids that will be welcomed by every band director. These include a curriculum guide and practice assignment sheets for all three grades; practice tips; and exercises and etudes for snare, mallet, set, and timpani. Recordings and practice tracks are available on the book's companion website.

Cover of Rhythm and Beauty with black and white photograph of drums.

Rhythm and Beauty: The Art of Percussion

"Presents a sample of percussion instruments from around the world; and the accompanying compact disk was "produced as a companion CD for the book 'Rhythm & Beauty: The Art of Percussion'" which contains songs featuring sounds of the instruments discussed in the book."

Cover of the Modern Percussionist featuring a close-up photograph of a snare drum and sticks with white text.

A Dictionary for the Modern Percussionist and Drummer

Percussion instruments such as drums, cymbals, gongs, and xylophones comprise one of the largest and ever-expanding areas of music performance, composition, and sound effects. Profusely illustrated, A Dictionary for the Modern Percussionist and Drummer is an essential resource for any student, professional, or amateur musician who wants to delve into the vast world of percussion and drumming instruments and terminology. With an emphasis on modern terms in many languages and genres, James A. Strain has defined, detailed, and explained the use of percussion instruments and drums not only for classical genres (such as orchestra, symphonic, band, and opera) but also for popular styles (such as jazz, rock, music theater, and marching band). Also included are those world music instruments and ensembles commonly found in public school and university settings (such as steel drum bands, samba bands, and gamelan ensembles) as well as historical genres related to rope and rudimental drumming. Written for professional and amateur percussionists as well as non-percussionist educators, this book includes valuable topics on instrument construction and tuning and specific playing techniques, as well as instrument setup diagrams with models and ranges of keyboard percussion instruments. With more than 300 images and examples, it is the ideal reference book to enable any musician to better understand the extensive world of percussion and drumming.

Gold cover of Symphonic Repertoire with percussion instruments in white.

Symphonic Repertoire Guide for Timpani and Percussion

A bibliography listing orchestral excerpts for timpani.

Drumsville! The Evolution of the New Orleans Beat

Drumsville! The Evolution of the New Orleans Beat traces the history of drums and drumming in the Crescent City, exploring more than three centuries of the instrument and the art form that transformed New Orleans into the musical powerhouse it is today. Created as a companion to the New Orleans Jazz Museum exhibit of the same name, Drumsville! examines the drummer?s role in the evolution of brass bands, Black masking Indians, traditional and modern jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and funk.

Artful Noise: Percussion Literature in the 20th Century

Twentieth-century composers created thousands of original works for solo percussion and percussion ensemble. Concise and ideal for the classroom, Artful Noise offers an essential and much-needed survey of this unique literature. Percussionist Thomas Siwe organizes and analyzes the groundbreaking musical literature that arose during the twentieth century. Focusing on innovations in style and the evolution of the percussion ensemble, Siwe offers a historical overview that connects the music to scoring techniques, new instrumentation and evolving technologies as well as world events. Discussions of representative pieces by seminal composers examines the resources a work requires, its construction, and how it relates to other styles that developed during the same period. In addition, Siwe details the form and purpose of many of the compositions while providing background information on noteworthy artists. Each chapter is supported with musical examples and concludes with a short list of related works specifically designed to steer musicians and instructors alike toward profitable explorations of composers, styles, and eras.

Percussion Journals:

The Wilson Music Library subscribes to a number of music journals, including those published by the major professional organizations for various instruments. Reading journals in your area of study is part of being a professional musician - you can learn about major performers and repertoire, new works, festivals, scholarships, and more. Some of these journals are issued only in print (current issues can be found on the browsing periodicals shelving near the book stacks), but many are available online.

Instrumentalist      Modern Drummer      Percussive Notes