marching percussion writing
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I love arranging music and I’m trying to expand my writing for marching percussion (esp. battery). Since I am a “brass guy”, my percussion chops are severely limited. Can anyone recommend some ideas, books, etc., to work on arranging for marching percussion? I am really interested in learning fills and some “classic” licks that I can learn to incorporate. Any help or thoughts are appreciated.
Percussion writing is great but my advice would be always think for the music first. It’s easy to write a fancy percussion that you know into a song but is it musically sound? I start out with learning to match rhythms to the rest of the band. I also think it’s important to have an overall concept of what a marching percussion section is doing on the field. Is it a marching drumset or is a marching concert percussion battery section? Important steps to get started with.
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”.