Saturday, November 7, 2009

Analysis on the concert percussion ensemble.

A re-post of an old blog entry 1 year ago, link.

Nan Hwa Marching Band has reach the stage of “Passing Out” season and is now changing to Nan Hwa Symphonic Wind Band…. So Woodwinds has increased, Brass toned down, and who can Ignore? The Percussion has brought out, like always, the Many characters that can’t be found during the marching season….


Snare Drums:

Pearl Championship Carbonply Series High-Tension Snares

Change to this:

Pearl Symphonic Snare

Big Change ya? No more hard hitting action… literally..

Snares are the icing on the cake during concerts, they give that satisfying rhythm beat. Often times the snare parts are Complex and Demanding, especially the Contemporary pieces. Usually in the Background, they sometimes can be quite aggressive in certain songs, which demands the player to be super fast in playing. There you have it, the snares.

Bass Drum:

Pearl Carbonply Championship Series Bass Drum

Change to this:

Ludwig Suspended Concert Bass Drum

No more Rim shoots ya? hehe

The bass drum is heartbeat, not only to the percussion, but to the whole band. When they play, they play with confidence, the bass player is always ready for that hard hitting climax, or maybe to deliver that soft muffled hit, it’s all in a days work for them. The bass drum is flexible in it’s own right, able to create different effects through out the song, soft and mysterious, piano, or maybe loud and climatic, forte? they can do it all.

Keyboard Percussion:

Yamaha Marching Bells

Yamaha Marching Xylophone

Change to this:

Adams Marimba

Adams Vibraphone

No more back aches, haha…

Keyboard percussion playing is executed with much required accuracy, and demands much dexterity. From slow, ambient sounds, to fierce striking passages, the keyboards are slow yet fast. Their running notes are faster than Olympic sprinters, so accuracy is key to successful playing. The players usually accompany their fast paced actions with flowing body movements, sometimes even jumping once in a while, which can be entertaining for the audience.

The Timpani:

Adams Timpani

If the Bass Drum is the heartbeat of the band, The Timpani may very well be the Backbone. The Timpani’s sustaining sound enables it to be create a resonance effect in the band, making it a very Important Instrument in almost any modern concert band performance. The percussive nature of the Timpani, along with it’s tunable range, gives it a strong bass sound no other instrument can produce, making it unique. The players are usually swift with hands, because playing four drums at the same time can be a challenge. The Timpani, whether soft soothing beats, or loud rolling crescendos, is always ready to bring the band to a whole new level of playing.

The Cymbals:

Marching Cymbal

Change to this:

Concert Cymbal

No More hanging those cymbals for 1 minute, haha..

On the field, Inside the band room, anywhere you go, when there’s a Cymbal, you can bet that there are going to be bright flashing lights. A part from playing those loud crashes, the Cymbalist will open up the Cymbal pairs to project the sound towards the Audience, ensuring the the crash be heard for climatic ends. The Cymbals, are oftentimes, well…. loud. But that doesn’t mean they don’t play soft, some songs require the sizzle effect from the cymbal. Most of the times, the Cymbals are used to make that final climatic crash where the band cannot go any louder, or to bring the music to a dead stop with a final crash.

Auxiliary Percussion:

All the etc of the percussion

The Auxiliary percussion, as it name suggest, are the supporting instruments. You can do away with them, seriously….. But expect extremely dull performance. The Auxiliaries are actually very important because they add the Colours to the music. Like a cherry on a cake, the put a finishing touch into the music. Without them, they won’t be any feeling in the music, no matter how good the other players are.

So to conclude, the percussion section is a very important aspect in the Concert Band, especially in Modern Contemporary music.

The Percussion Ensemble, Ladies and Gentlemen.

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