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  • R!Solo: Bit Crusher for Minimalist Drum Set And Track by Greg Haynes

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jun 13, 2020

    This short piece includes an optional electronic play-along track in the kawaii bass style that emphasizes many of the accented syncopations in the drum set part. All of the patterns written for the drums feature the use of dotted-eighth durations spread across three or more measures at a time. In this sense, the piece is monothematic for the drums, and each section incorporates a different variation technique. On snare drum, ghost notes should be kept as low as possible, and the marcato accents should be played as rimshots.

    The following section information may be helpful in learning the piece and playing with the track provided. In the A section, rimshots are doubled in the upper chip-based synths while the kick drum is generally doubled in the saw chords. In the B section, the right hand repeatedly sweeps out to the floor tom for the first four measures and then sweeps inward for the last four. The drop occurs in the C section, and the kick is doubled in the synth bass. The D section features a brief return to the initial pattern followed by a new variation of the B section pattern where the right hand alternates between sweeping out and sweeping in.

    To maximize the playability of this piece during the COVID-19 pandemic, when percussion equipment access may be more limited, the drum set part only requires four pieces: hi-hat, snare, kick, and floor tom. Enjoy “Bit Crusher,” and I would love to hear any new recordings that are produced, with or without the track.

    Bit Crusher Page 1

    Bit Crusher Page 2

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    Greg HaynesGreg Haynes
    is a percussionist, composer, and educator based in the Connecticut/metro New York area. Haynes is active as both a soloist and an ensemble player, having performed concertos, solo recitals, chamber works, and orchestral pieces throughout the United States and internationally.  He has performed with a diverse selection of ensembles including the Hartford Symphony, the Longmont Symphony, the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, Banda Sinfonica de Santa Fe in Argentina, Marimba Sol de Chiapas, and the Redemption Sound Setters steel orchestra in Tobago. Haynes serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University. He composes chamber and percussion works by commission and produces music for film and media via GHM Scoring. Haynes received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 2009 and holds a professional certificate in advanced music production from Berklee Online.


  • R!Solo: April Showers, Yellow Flowers for Solo 4-Mallet Marimba by Michael Varner

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 06, 2020

    “April Showers, Yellow Flowers” is an accessible work for four-mallet marimba that may be performed on a 4-octave or larger instrument. Here are a few other notes for your consideration as you prepare this solo:

    1. It may be performed with traditional, Stevens, or Burton grip.

    2. Sticking indications use the standard marimba solo numbering of 1, 2, 3, 4 (left to right) with mallets 1 and 2 in the left hand and 3 and 4 in the right hand.

    3. Four medium-soft yarn mallets are recommended or, alternatively, a graduated set of soft, medium, medium, medium-hard (left to right) as seen and heard on the video.

    4. Maintain a relaxed, legato sound and stroke throughout.

    5. In the opening measures connect the rolls as indicated by the slur mark. I suggest leading with the right hand. Leave a slight break between measures 2 and 3 and strike all the notes of the chord together.

    6. Always bring out the melody slightly: for example, emphasize the right hand in measure 17 and the left hand in measure 18.

    7. Feel free to add appropriate phrase shaping such as a slight increase following the contour of the melody for measures 5–10.

    8. Maintain a consistent rhythmic pulse in measure 27 through 29. Do not ritard until marked in measure 30.




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    Dr. Michael Varner recently retired after 36 years as Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington.  Previously he was Director of Percussion at Western Michigan University. He holds a degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Performance degree from the University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from the University of North Texas. With a long history as a performer he presents new and time-honored repertoire to the highest standards, having presented percussion clinics in every state, Europe, and Japan. He has written for nationally recognized DCI and WGI marching groups including the Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen. Under his leadership the University of Texas at Arlington Drumline performed with consistently top rankings at many PAS events. His interest in world music led to research in Nigeria and Ghana. His article “Skin That Speaks” was published in Percussive Notes. His interest in composing has led to many commissions with over 20 published works, and he is a member of the PAS Composition Committee. For more information visit

  • R!Solo: Almost a Chaconne for snare drum by Brian Graiser

    by Hillary Henry | Feb 10, 2020

    A “chaconne” is a musical form originating in the dance suites of the Baroque Period. It is typically in triple meter and revolves around a short musical idea that is repeated over and over, each time undergoing some sort of variation. This snare drum etude breaks too many rules to really be a chaconne (if you would like to hear an actual chaconne, I highly recommend listening to the fifth movement of J.S. Bach’s “Partita for Violin No. 2,” considered by many to be one of the greatest pieces of music ever written), but the idea is essentially the same: to present a musical idea (the first eight measures) over and over, each time using different compositional and performance techniques to add some new twist.

    When writing “Almost a Chaconne,” I wanted to stay away from the world of drumline and rudimental drumming and focus instead on the techniques that are found in orchestral and contemporary music. Therefore, all of the “rudiments” in this etude should be performed orchestrally: all rolls and drags should be closed and (to an appropriate degree) buzzy, not open or “diddled.” Players should take care that any of the nontraditional sounds are consistent and distinct, providing the most thoughtfully-curated collection of sounds possible. 

    As with any orchestral snare drum excerpt, the stickings are completely up to the performer. In some instances, I have added my own suggestions, but they are in no way required. The best sticking option is the one that will give you the best chance to play the music with good tone, accuracy, and consistency. 

    I had a lot of fun writing this piece, and I hope you enjoy taking on the challenge! Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you approach this solo:

    • The material in mm. 9–16 is a recurring fragment that is not directly a part of the primary repeating musical idea; it should be played with as much contrast to the surrounding material as possible.

    • The single-handed buzzes in mm. 18–25 should not be crushed, but rather last as long as possible (preferably until the following note) while maintaining a consistency of sound. 

    • The rolls in mm. 26–33 are marked staccato because they need to have separation between them (which must not affect tempo maintenance), not because they should be crushed. By contrast, the rolls in mm. 34–41 doconnect into their release notes.

    • The left hand’s “Latin clicks” starting in m. 51 should be full but not accented; these are not rimshots.

    • The stick hits starting in m. 68 should be as distinct as possible from the “Latin clicks.” Explore where you should hit the left stick and which part of the right stick is making contact.

    • The section from mm. 85–92 is particularly tricky and will require a good deal of thought as to what sticking will allow you to play the three-stroke ruffs in time and with a good sound (this passage owes more than a little of its existence to the notoriously difficult snare drum solo at the very beginning of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kijé”suite for orchestra).

    Almosta Chaconne Page 1

    Almost a Chaconne Page 2

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    Brian GraiserDr. Brian Graiseris Adjunct Instructor of Percussion at Sam Houston State University. As an active performer, composer, and researcher, his musical exploits are highly diverse, although he is best known for his work pertaining to the vibraphone, such as his “Concerto No. 1 [‘Lulu’] for Four-Octave Vibraphone” (the world’s first concerto for the extended-range instrument), his service as Executive Director of Vibraphone Project Inc., and numerous commissioning and research projects. He regularly performs as a soloist and with his wife Alaina as the REFLECT harp+percussion duo. Dr. Graiser earned his Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Composition and Music Performance at the University of Georgia, his Master of Music degree in Music Performance at the University of Toronto, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Performance with a Composition Cognate at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He currently serves on the PAS Composition Committee and his compositions are available through Keyboard Percussion Publications, Alfonce Production, Strikeclef Publishing, and self-publication.

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