Posted in Indefinite-pitched Percussion Repertoire

Snare Drum Pieces

This post is about the compositions with snare drum that I’ve listened to. Each piece includes some of my thoughts, brief analysis and different information that I found. Interestingly, I managed to find some unaccompanied solo works. Beside these, I also added the ensemble and orchestral pieces that contain interesting snare drum sections.

Unaccompanied solo snare drum

Jacques Delecluse – Douze etudes for snare drum (1964)

When searching for snare drum pieces, I certainly didn’t expect to see any unaccompanied solo compositions. This is mostly because I didn’t believe that its ‘mono-timbral nature’ as Baker (2004: 2) terms it, would be capable of producing full solo compositions. Interestingly though, when I listened to Decluse’s etudes, I found that these weren’t just technical, but also contained musicality. As Macarez (n.d.) puts it better, there are “no mindless technical patterns, no measure without artistic sense, but rather expressive dynamics, intelligent phrases…” Even more curious is what Delecluse said: “You also have to internalize the rhythmic melody… You do have to play what’s written and all the details on the page, but they have to represent the rhythmic melody that you’re feeling.” (Knopper, 2014)

This concept of rhythmic melody really intrigued and fascinated me, making me question what I thought my definitions of musical and non-musical were. Thereby, more than showing me the mechanical possibilities of the snare drum, these etudes demonstrated its musical abilities, changing my timbral awareness, so that I began to identify the different phrases, expression, even the cadence-like elements, of the rhythmic melody. Transforming my musical ear, these etudes definitely proved how the snare drum, as well as other percussion in general, is capable of being an unaccompanied solo instrument. This is something which I hope to convey in my future compositions. Lastly, my favorite etude in this sense was Etude No. 8, where I could clearly hear all the phrases with colorful crescendo and decrescendo effects – it’s as if I could perceive the different ‘timbral pitches’:

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