RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • R!Solo: Study for Snare Drum by Caleb Pickering

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 20, 2021

    This short etude for snare drum is a study in combining mixed meter, rolls, and embellishments. Throughout the changing time signatures, the eighth-note pulse should remain constant. As the rolls crescendo and decrescendo, strive to maintain a consistent roll quality. Given the extensive use of rhythmic embellishments using flams, drags, and ruffs, it is critical to maintain rhythmically precise placement of each main note and keep all grace notes very low to the head to ensure clarity of the rhythmic framework without disrupting the meter or tempo. 

    I hope you enjoy this “Study”!

    Study for Snare Drum by Caleb Pickering

    Study for Snare Drum by Caleb Pickering from Percussive Arts Society on Vimeo.

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    Caleb PickeringDr. Caleb Pickering
    is an instructor of percussion and music theory at James Madison University. As a performer, he has been invited to perform and speak to university students throughout the U.S. and abroad, most notably for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in the U.K. He was the 2019 composer-in-residence for the World Percussion Group and has received numerous international commissions from universities, ensembles, and individuals.


  • R!Solo: At Home for Multiple Percussion Solo by Mark McCafferty

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Dec 18, 2020

    “At Home” focuses on techniques commonly used throughout percussion literature, but with a few twists. For instance, the friction roll, a common mystery to beginning and intermediate percussionists, is called for, but on a mounted (drum set) tambourine. Friction rolls can be performed on any surface of sufficient tackiness, and with a little wax, they work very well on a mounted tambourine. It is not common for students to possess their own concert tambourine, at least at first, but access to a mounted tambourine is very common.

    This piece was composed during the COVID-19 pandemic, so a special emphasis was placed on the idea of a multi-percussion setup that would be very achievable for high school percussionists. Most percussionists have a drum set of some type, and many have a cowbell and a mounted tambourine. With a little improvisation, and some setup considerations, “At Home” was the result. There is a Latin feel to much of the piece, with two main grooves, and several extended techniques. Take time to explore each sound, hand position, and technique required, and the notation for each, then begin to combine the sounds and strokes into the individual patterns in the piece before gradually learning each new phrase. Before long, you’ll be working transitions and putting the whole thing together. I hope you enjoy this solo!



    At Home Notation Guide

    At Home RSolo

    R!Solo: At Home for Multiple Percussion Solo from Percussive Arts Society on Vimeo.


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    Mark McCaffertyMark McCafferty
    serves as the Chairperson of the Department of Music at Mount St. Joseph University, as well as Director of Bands and Percussion. McCafferty is also an active freelance percussionist in the Cincinnati area. His compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the United States and are available at and on his website,

  • R!Solo: The Legend of Cú Chulainn for Timpani by Dr. David O'Fallon

    by Hillary Henry | Oct 10, 2020

    “The Legend of Cú Chulainn” (koo HUH-len) is the third piece I’ve composed this year that was inspired by looking into my Irish heritage. It calls for five drums, and I recommend using staccato or ultra-staccato mallets. If the smallest drum is unavailable, you may use an appropriately-tuned snare drum (with snares off), concert tom, RotoTom, or timbale. 

    As for the title, Cú Chulainn is a warrior from medieval Irish mythology, and the rhythmic profile of the piece would be recognizable to those familiar with Irish music as a slip jig. The three slip jigs in this piece are separated by brief interludes during which there is a pedal change on the lowest drum.

    When slip jigs are danced, the tempo, although lively, is typically somewhat slower (about dotted-quarter note equals 112) than what I have indicated, but reading about the exploits of Cú Chulainn seemed to suggest a tempo with a bit more urgency (120). The ornamentation in the last measure will be clearer if the E-flat is immediately dampened after it is struck.

    Chulainn Page 1

    Chulainn Page 2

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    David O'FallonDr. David O’Fallon
    is a composer, percussionist, and educator originally from the Chicago area and currently residing in Florida. His background as a performer includes working for many years in Chicago as a free-lance percussionist and as a frequently called extra and substitute percussionist for the Chicago Symphony, with whom he has toured and recorded extensively. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition degree at the University of Kentucky in 2015 and has taught percussion, music theory, orchestration, and music-related humanities courses at a number of colleges and universities in Illinois and Florida. He currently serves on the PAS Composition Committee, and his compositions are available through Alfred Music, Per-Mus Publications, and self-publication.

    Lucas-SanchezLucas Sanchez, originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, enjoys a multi-faceted career as a timpanist, percussionist, and teacher. Sanchez performs with the Palm Beach Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz, the Florida Grand Opera, the Nu Deco Ensemble, and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. In the past he has appeared with the Houston Symphony and the Amarillo Symphony.

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