Part 1 - Project 1, Projects

Project 1 – Celtic Drum Solo

I committed my evening to my first task of writing my first project which was to write a small selection of varying studies for different solo un-pitched percussion instruments. My original idea was to write a study in 12/8 for a Bodhran.

I researched this task by listening to the “Irish and Celtic music Podcast” episodes #351 and #347 as well as the brass band score of Peter Grahams “Cry of the Celts” by Peter Graham.

I managed to identify some key features of percussion lines in traditional Celtic music through my critical analysis. In doing this, I noticed that the music was generally grouped as 4 lots of 3 quaver groups, almost a triplet feel. These groupings were either written in 6/8 or 12/8. Another common phrasing was having a crotchet followed by a quaver in one grouping of 3 sub-divisions in a bar – This grouping would often be answered with more tri-grouped quavers.

One issue I had while writing in this key signature was that, in a few circumstances, My Brass Band background meant that I was at risk of making my composition sound more like a 6/8 march. In order to avoid this. I used the semiquaver triplet on the end of a fourth beat in bar 9 and used it again soon after the first beat of bar 10. This was also a technique that I used to maintain listening interest. From bar 10 I incorporated the kind of syncopation I heard in the “Irish and Celtic Music Podcast” in episode number #351. This helped me to avoid the 6/8 march feel that I was concerned about. The ending of this piece of music was inspired by the ending of the third movement of Peter Grahams “Cry of the Celts” as I ended on quavers and accented the last 3 quavers of the final bar.

I found it quite easy to develop a rhythm but I did struggle to transition my different ideas to flow in to one composition. As i progress further on my course I would gradually like to build on one single idea as opposed to having to transition different ideas together.

Part 1 - Project 1, Projects

Project 1 – solos

I wrote my studies for snare, gong and wood block today. For the sake of formatting I will have each study subtitled below:

Time for a change – wood block study

I found this composition came quite naturally. I had to take influence from the given example in my student book. I used the same instruction (lively) because I wanted to display the jokey and lively side of the wooden block. I built in aspects of my own personality in the to=he composition by playing around with the time signatures. This keeps the listener guessing. I also found that this helped me to contrast my very strict 2/4 march. The difference lies within the fluent movement of time signatures and the added syncopation on the wood block.


March in Time – study for snare

The march begins with the same rhythm as the “20th Century Fanfare” that fox media use in their signature theme.  This also happens to be one of the rhythms that a lot of marching bands use as an introduction to their marches. I then took out the dotted quavers and reverted to straight quavers as this is a more traditional march rhythm and feel. I then incorporate the use of tremolo lines. These help to make a score easier to read and look more professional. I added grace notes for extra technique practice and also as it helps maintain a listeners interest. It is a popular technique in all marches on the snare line.

The written rhythmic feature that i used at the beginning of this study contrasts to the crotchet quaver feel of the 12/8 study as there is much less emphasis on the written semi-quaver in the 2/4 than the quaver written in 12/8.

Suspended Gong study 

The gong study is aimed at having a suspended sound and a slower rhythm. It is also aimed at keeping crescendo and diminuendo consistent with each other. The Crescendo and diminuendo played by a gong have a huge effect in a piece of music. I did have to re-cap over the student booklet to revise how to write to  maintain a long note on this kind of instrument. This contrasts from my other studies because it is all long tied notes, I used semi-breves and minims as opposed to quavers and semi-quavers.