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R!Solo: "It's All About Control" for Solo Concert Snare Drum by Luis Rivera

Feb 1, 2019, 00:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

“It’s All About Control” is a solo that, as the title implies, focuses on control and musicality for the snare drummer. It is important to note all the different dynamics in this piece while also aiming for quality, rhythmic precision, and accuracy. Below are some helpful hints to consider when preparing “It’s All About Control.” Good luck!

This work has three distinct sections, the first of which repeats, or recapitulates, at the end (starting at Rehearsal C). The form can be characterized as A-B-C-A´. Section B begins where the meter changes to 3/4 (Rehearsal A), and Section C begins where the meter changes back to 4/4; this is the softest passage in the work (Rehearsal B). These are important landmarks for you to know to help with the organization of your practice time and breaking down the entire work into smaller parts when first learning the music.

You will notice that there are several dynamics within the work. The reasons for this are to make the work sound as musical as possible, and so that you, as the performer, are focusing on various technical demands at different heights and with differing degrees of touch on the snare drum.

As with any piece of music regardless of instrument, phrasing is a very crucial component of music performance. It is essential to not only make the differences in dynamics crystal clear, but also to precisely execute any transitions between them, such as a crescendo or decrescendo. Strive to make these transitions as smooth as possible. Accents should be heard clearly within the texture, at all dynamics. When there are multiple measures of a single dynamic without any accents (measures 9–14 for example), even and consistent sound between both hands should be the top priority.

The specified tempo range is to accommodate players of various skill levels. Do not go faster than what you are capable of playing (even if this is slower than 132 beats per minute), and remember, always start learning SLOWLY!

There are no stickings indicated in this solo. This is to allow the performer to make his or her own decisions based on their phrasing and execution. There are a multitude of options when playing four sixteenth notes, for example. But if the music is demanding an even articulation on those four notes, it might be wiser to play RLRL or LRLR instead of RRLL, RLLR, LLRR, etc. Always let the written music (dynamics, articulation, phrasing, etc.) guide your sticking options.

All indicated rolls are intended to be played as closed rolls (multiple bounce or buzz rolls). Be careful to choose roll speeds that will get your rolls sounding smooth and musically appropriate at each dynamic level (for example, not rolling too fast for a pianissimo dynamic). Flams should be clearly heard and not flat or popped. All drags are notated with two grace notes, meaning that only two grace notes should be heard—not combining them into a buzzed sound.


It's All About Control

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Luis Rivera

Luis Rivera serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of South Alabama, where he conducts the USA Percussion Ensemble, World Music Ensemble, Steel Band, and Jaguar Drumline. He earned his Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, a Master of Music degree from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Central Florida. Dr. Rivera is the Principal Percussionist with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra, and performs with the Pensacola, Mobile, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, and Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestras. He is also the Front Ensemble Caption Manager for the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. Dr. Rivera serves on the PAS Composition Committee and has works published through Tapspace Publications, Bachovich Publications, and Alfred Publishing. More information is available at

Trevor Perez (video performer) is a junior percussionist double majoring in Music Education and Performance at the University of South Alabama. In addition to his scholastic ensembles, Trevor teaches private lessons around the Mobile area, is a percussion instructor at Citronelle High School, has performed with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, and was also a member of the 2018 Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps Front Ensemble.

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