RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • R!Solo “Get it!” by Olivia Kieffer

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 11, 2023

    “Get it!” is inspired by my cat, Clarkie Mae. I found her as a kitten, under my car in Miami, and I adopted her. She is rambunctious and loves tearing around the apartment and eating food. Her food bin sits atop my toy piano, and she plays the toy piano every time she wants to eat, and then stares at me pleadingly, as though she’s still a tiny starving kitten (despite being a husky jaguar-like 12 pounds). She usually only presses one key at a time, which is represented in the music with the short, open hi-hat sounds. 

    In the first half of “Get it!” the feet are the timekeepers and the hands are the soloists, with stickings for the toms. In the second half, the whole drum set is the timekeeper, and performers can come up with their own stickings. Performers should practice playing the feet alone, and then in combination with the whole kit. 


    “Get it!” performed by Sam Owens

    Get it by Olivia Kieffer

    Get it Key by Olivia Kieffer

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    Dr. Olivia Kieffer is a composer, percussionist, and educator, and she is a member of the PAS Composition Committee. She was drummer and bandleader for the 7-piece chamber rock band Clibber Jones Ensemble, taught percussion at Reinhardt University, and is a composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Olivia has been hailed as a “toy piano evangelist.”

  • R!Solo: Bell Variations by Paul Millette

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 10, 2023

    “Bell Variations” is a snare drum solo based on the 12/8 bell pattern commonly found in traditional Afro-Cuban music. The work contains three sections in an ABA form. The “A” sections alternate between variations of the bell pattern and interjections that utilize rolls and grace notes. The “B” section introduces interplay between the rim and head of the drum, developing coordination needed to play in the Bembe style of Afro-Cuban music.

    ● In measures 20 and 21, pay careful attention to the double stops, which need to be played perfectly in unison.
    ● The spacing of the grace notes in measures 7 and 8 is open to the performer’s interpretation. However, all grace notes should be uniform.
    ● Strive to play as evenly as possible in measures 11 and 12 at the pianissimo dynamic. Playing evenly at this dynamic can be challenging!
    ● The sixteenth notes in the work are forte, but should feel light and relaxed.


    Bell Variations Notation Guide by Paul Millette


    Bell Variations Page 1 by Paul Millette.png

    Bell Variations Page 2 by Paul Millette

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    Paul MillettePaul Millette is a percussionist, composer, and educator based out of San Antonio, Texas. He serves as Assistant Professor of Practice in Percussion at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he teaches applied percussion, percussion pedagogy, and percussion literature. Millette has performed with the San Antonio Philharmonic, Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, and the United States Air Force Band of the West. Millette’s music is published by Tapspace, C. Alan, and Wildlight Publications.

  • Good ol’ Tension & Release. Performance by Ash Soan. Transcription by David Stanoch

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Mar 06, 2023

    Ash Soan is a prolific and in-demand studio and touring drummer who has a well-respected presence on social media. I originally came across this performance clip by Ash on his Twitter account in the Autumn of 2019, as I was interested in getting more familiar with his work ahead of his PASIC appearance in November of that year.

    This particular track really caught my ear because it seemed to me, stylistically, to be a good example of how to approach the Neo-Soul style of drumming that features what some call a “drunken” or “strung” (straight + swung combined) feel, where the eighth-note subdivision is sometimes neither perfectly straight nor a perfect shuffle rhythm, but rather is more elastic and flexible on the offbeat, “in the cracks,” between straight and swung.

    The main reason I think this performance is a good example for getting into that style of playing is that, while there is a slight bit of overlapping straight and swung feel (see bars 4 and 6), the bulk of the solo creates the illusion of that feel by more directly mixing between straight and swung eighth notes, which sets up a strong foundation for being able to then “bend” them stylistically.

    In Afro-Cuban rhythmic vocabulary, in particular, you’ll hear the same approach used regularly. To advance towards playing more “in the cracks,” think of how horn players in jazz play legato eighth notes, particularly at faster tempos, that nest between “straight eighth” and “shuffle” subdivisions and take that approach at a slower tempo. 

    This is a fun solo to play because the beats are more challenging than they might look to lay in the pocket as you hear Ash play them, and the piece is peppered with a variety of Ash’s interesting, unique fills and phrasing, which combine great feel, taste, and space with more chops than perhaps meets the eye. Take them apart slowly at first and work them up until they feel good!

    I worked with Ash directly to update the original video clip to include the notation of the transcription as well so you can see it as you watch and listen, all at once. Thank you, Ash!

    A couple of notation notes:

    The two-line staff is based on the same as my teachers, Elliot Fine and Marvin Dahlgren, introduced in their book, 4-Way Coordination. It was, at that time. an updated version of the innovative Swiss Basel one-line staff style of snare drum notation, in which the sticking is illustrated with the right-hand above the line and the left-hand below the line. Fine and Dahlgren added a second staff line below the hands for the feet on the drumset, with the right foot (typically playing bass drum) above the bottom line and the left foot (typically playing hi-hat) below it.

    The advantage is you can see the stickings, instead of having to write them out, as well as the foot patterns right inside the rhythm.

    The Key for the notation is found at the bottom of the transcription. Everything you’ll find there should be pretty standard except for the tom-tom notes, which are labeled 1 and 2. This is done simply to help you know which drum to play, as “1” refers to the rack tom and “2” refers to the floor tom.

    Work towards ultimately playing along with the clip to match up with the synth programming and complete the musical application aspect of the experience. You'll come away with some sweet new licks for your own vocabulary as well.

    For more Ash Soan, check out the PAS Playlist on Spotify, curated by Drum Set Committee member Christian Dorn:

    Watch the Video.

    Ash Soan Transcript Page 1

    Ash Soan Transription Page 2
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