RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • R!Solo: “Just a Step Away” for Solo Keyboard Percussion by Daniel J. Krumm

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 17, 2021

    “Just a Step Away” gets its name, as well as its dark and colorful tones, from one of my favorite synthetic scales: an Fmaj7 chord with half steps above each chord tone. The spelling of the scale is F, G-flat, A, B-flat, C, D-flat, E. This piece is all about balancing stability and flexibility in harmony as well as expression. The major triads using scale degrees 1-3-5 and 2-4-6 combine with five different half-step pairs so that almost any note can feel like home, while never allowing the piece to settle completely. 

    Featured also in this piece is the augmented triad (F, A, C-sharp/D-flat). The triad fits the scale, and the addition of a half step above any of the three notes creates a minor seventh chord: G-flat min7, B-flat min7, or D min7. Reading and learning the piece will be much easier if you practice the scale and augmented triad before beginning.

    Krumm Scale Graphic 

    The numerous expressive indications are guidelines to the generally shifting nature of the piece. Performers are encouraged to sing and breathe in every passage, and find the tension and relaxation of each gesture for themselves. The descriptive dynamics at the top are intended to tie an expressive intent to each resonant zone on the instrument. No instrument or number of mallets is specified, and the piece could be played on almost anything with any combination of mallets. The resonant character of each instrument would naturally change interpretive decisions significantly, and some written indications could reasonably be changed or disregarded.


    R!Solo: “Just a Step Away” for Solo Keyboard Percussion by Daniel J. Krumm. from Percussive Arts Society on Vimeo.

    Just a Step Away Score

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    Dan Krumm Daniel J Krumm
    is a percussionist of wide-ranging experience. Equally at home in the symphony orchestra, musical theatre ensemble, samba bateria, salsa band, folklorico, djembefola, chamber ensemble, solo stage, or teaching studio, he brings a diverse array of skills and sensibilities to any situation. Having received formal training in percussion during his undergraduate studies at Iowa State University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dan is now living and working in central Iowa. He can be heard on Matthew Coley’s CD Souvenirs, Neil Thornock’s CD Between the Lines, and the Heartland Marimba Festival’s inaugural CD, Heartland Marimba Dances.

  • 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,

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