RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • R!Solo: Journey to the Source for Drum Set by Christopher Butler

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jun 11, 2022

    This short solo is inspired by the grooves of New Orleans and the drummers who inspire me including Stanton Moore, Herlin Riley, Zigaboo Modeliste, and countless others. Besides accurately playing the notes, please listen to some of the legends and aim to capture the feel of “playing between the cracks.” Feel free to change any sticking or add any additional ornaments (buzzes, drags, etc.) to make this more authentic. Please note that all notated rimshots are typically ping shots, playing closer to the bead of the stick.

    Journey to the Source 1

    Journey to the Source 2
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    Dr. Christopher ButlerDr. Christopher Butler is a percussion educator, artist, conductor, author, and composer with experience in all facets of percussion. He is an Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Percussion Activities at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill.). He has presented and performed at a multitude of international conferences and contemporary music festivals including PASIC and the Outside the Box New Music Festival. His compositions and methods for percussion are published through Tapspace Publications, Blueshift Music, and Meredith Music. He also serves as the president of the Illinois PAS chapter.

  • R!Solo: Blues for Brandi for Vibraphone by Mark McCafferty

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 16, 2022

    “Blues for Brandi” is a slow 12-bar blues head that focuses on chord structures and various forms of dampening. Pay particular attention to the markings for the sustain pedal, as well as the dead stroke and muffling instructions. The muffling can be accomplished a number of ways, but was written with mallet dampening in mind. Great explanations of this can be found in various places, but if watching the video, note that the mallet doing the muffling is silently contacting the bar with enough pressure that the rattan slightly bends. It is recommended to try this only with rattan shaft mallets, as birch mallets do not possess the same flexibility.

    The melody notes used for the piece highlight possible chord tones to use in a solo, and performers are encouraged to continue improvising over the chord changes after the melody is complete. Chord symbols are included to highlight what melody tones are associated with what chord. Use these as a jumping-off point, and see what you find! Playing with a bass player, piano, guitar, another vibraphonist, or other chording instrument is highly encouraged, and will open up new avenues for the piece. Enjoy, and please share your efforts!

    Blues For Brandi by McCafferty

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    Mark McCaffertyMark McCafferty is an in-demand percussionist in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, and has been featured on concerts as close to home as Delhi, Ohio, and as far away as Valencia, Spain.  Teaching credits include hundreds of private-lesson students and numerous marching and concert ensembles. Most notably, McCafferty serves as Percussion Instructor, and Chair of the Department of Music at Mount St. Joseph University. An active composer and arranger, McCafferty’s work ranges from commissions and originals to arrangements of pop tunes.  His works are available at and at

  • R!Solo: Slappy's Groove for Congas by Greg Haynes

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Dec 17, 2021

    This solo utilizes two basic sounds common to most of the larger hand drums such as congas and djembe: the open tone and the slap. With either tone, it is strongly recommended that players keep their first line of knuckles inside the drum’s bearing edge and the thumbs pulled back away from the edge so as to avoid injury. 

    The open tone is accomplished by striking the drum with a flat hand position, producing a pure fundamental tone. The slap is executed using the same stroke, but with a relaxed, slightly curved hand position. This new hand position will allow the fingertips to arrive slightly before the rest of the hand and, when performed correctly, will produce a higher-pitched pop, emphasizing an upper harmonic of the drum. The slap can either be played with full resonance (open) or with muting (closed). While the closed slap can be accomplished single-handedly by leaving the hand in contact with the head following initial contact, it can also be produced by placing the opposite hand on the head during execution, as you will see in the performance video. 

    “Slappy’s Groove” uses both kinds of slaps, as indicated by the articulation marking. The following key shows which articulations correspond to each sound on the congas:

    Slappys Groove Key

    This short piece is in a rock/fusion style and is grouped in regular four-bar phrases. The grooves can be explored at various tempos and several phrases are suitable for use while playing along with your favorite rock and pop tracks. As you play or perform this solo, be sure to relax and enjoy the groove!

    Slappys Groove SCORE

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    Greg HaynesGreg Haynes is a percussionist, composer, and educator based in the Connecticut/metro New York area. Haynes 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, Celtic Cross Pipes and Drum of Danbury, and the Redemption Sound Setters steel orchestra in Tobago. Haynes serves as Associate Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University. He composes chamber and percussion works by commission and produces music for film and media. 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.

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