Reply To: marching percussion writing
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Rule #1 – Don’t listen to anything the Blue Devils have done or the Cadets from about 2000-2010. 2011 is okay.
If you want tasty writing, you need to look at some of the Delucia stuff from the Bridgemen, Jim Casella from SCV and later the Cavaliers, and definitely Paul Rennick. These are guys that write musically and for the composition. They don’t always win, but they’re always VERY musical.
Sadly there is no “magic book”. It’s simply trial and error and experience. Know where you want to have impact and line up rhythms. Know where you want to have rhythmic dissonance and write counter rhythms. In my experience, it’s VERY easy to tell when a non-percussionist has written percussion parts because they tend to be very chordal, double melodies/wind parts a great deal and there is little rhythmic interest and a lot of “1 +a 2 +a 3 + 4e+a” or similar figures. The best thing you could do is learn or play more percussion in an ensemble.
That said, I love the Huey Lewis (and the News) fill. Shot-boom-boom-shot-boom-boom-shot. It’s the “we need a fill now, fill”.