One area which I feel is massively under-rated in this forum is the realm of classical music... I'd like to draw your attention to a New Yoiker by the name of Steve Reich- as well as being a master drummer, he puts together very well thought out compositions for percussion, in the same way one would for any other instrument or ensemble.
Reich is an important influence in the "minimalist" movement of modern classical music, that is to say- making the absolute most out of the absolute least- developing ideas to the max.
He studied percussion in Ghana with Gideon Alorwoyie in 1971, resulting in this
piece of music, plainly entitled "Drumming"
Its written for nine drummers, vibes, piccolo and female voices.
The incredible thing about this music is that it builds on itself one note at a time, starting from a single stroke, to two strokes, to three, four, until he gets the effect of a huge percussive vortex.This then changes (one note at a time) to become something different, constantly morphing and evolving slowly over time. I like to compare it to a school of fish or a flock of birds moving. It's a ridiculously interesting concept to work with.
Other interesting pieces for percussion that he has written include
Music for Pieces of Wood
These pieces use a technique known as "phasing", which means basically that two voices originally playing in unison fall gradually more and more out of sync with each other, until you end up eventually with the two overlapping again.
Reich has written music with a similar technique for a whole range of other instruments as well... eg:
(this makes extensive use of the paradiddle, on violins and cellos!)
Well worth checking out is this man! He may not be everybody's cup of tea, his music can be pretty controvertial, but if you get in on it it's absolutely fantastic.
Have any of you guys heard of him/like his music? What do you think of this whole concept? I'd be interested to hear all your thoughts on minimal percussion music.