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Garage Drummer for Percussion Ensemble

multiple percussion solo & percussion ensemble
Composer: James Campbell
Publisher: Innovative Percussion
Instrumentation: For Soloist: Horizontal bass drum (20”-24”), medium-low tom, medium-high tom, snare drum, bongos, small suspended cymbal (splash or trash), resonant “trashy” metal (opera gong), crotales (low octave preferred), a bass bow, dry cowbell. FOR ENSEMBLE: small & large afuche/cabasa, guiro, bar chime tree, small & standard triangle, low cowbell, rainstick, castanets, glocenspiel, vibraphone, sleighbells, hi & low woodblocks, brake drum, marimba (4 2/3), mounted tambourine, medium & large shaker, timbales, sizzle cymbal, congas, hi-hat, medium & large tam-tam, low med hi suspended cymbals, temple blocks, snare drum, kick drum w/ pedal, goat-hoof rattle, vibra-tone, chimes, timpani (G C Eb), trashy metal

Program Notes:
Garage Drummer was inspired by my memories of rock band jam sessions (commonly known as garage bands) held in various household basements and garages during my career. The occupants of the host household, at first, notice little more than random noises and feedback seeping through the walls of their living room. As the jam session unfolds, the drummer’s experiments with sounds, grooves, and fills increase with confidence and join a cacophony of wild guitar, bass, and keyboard riffs. As usual, the drummer not only ends up driving the band, but also drives the occupants out of the house! I have to say that I’ve served on both ends of the experience as a drummer and a parent. Garage Drummer won first place in the 2005 PAS Composition Contest and was premiered by Rob Parks (JBC).

Review:
"“Garage Drummer” has long been a popular multiple percussion solo. As a first-place winner in the 2005 PAS Composition Contest in the multiple solo with CD accompaniment category, it has been performed hundreds of times. Scott Herring reviewed the solo version in the April 2006 issue of Percussive Notes, so I’ll refrain from commenting on the solo itself (since it is identical) and give some insight on the percussion ensemble parts.

The parts do not appear to be difficult. There’s quite an extensive instrumentation list, but nothing too crazy. If anything, a couple of extra accessory instruments may need to be purchased. All the mallet parts can be played with two mallets and usually contain a motivic statement, hence the absence of any big “runs.” No rhythm is beyond a sixteenth note passage, and a tempo of 100 bpm makes each part manageable. The most challenging part will be the specific counting required to come in at the right spot; large-scale hocket patterns exist to feature the soloist in the open “holes.”

This clearly is a great performance option for someone who put in the work to learn the solo. However, as a piece of music, I think I prefer the original. The sounds included in the original electronic accompaniment really are unique and better convey the composer’s intent behind the piece. I will especially miss the “crunchy” electric guitar sounds in the latter half of the piece depicting the garage band in the basement. But, as a teacher, I can’t help but applaud the opportunity for more performance options. It will probably be programmed on one of my percussion ensemble concerts featuring an upperclassmen or graduate soloist." — Julia Gaines Percussive Notes, July 2013

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James Campbell James Campbell
University of Kentucky
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