Snare Drum Solos and Etudes
This is a recording of solo snare drumming that is based on a more modern symphonic style, rather than the typical rudimental marching tradition. I was inspired by Joe Morello to get a book of snare etudes written by Jacques Delecluse, who was the percussionist and pianist for the Paris Symphony. The etudes he wrote have become classics in the repertoire of modern percussion, and are used often as recital pieces at Julliard and Eastman. I recorded all 12 of his “Douze Etudes” on this cd, as well as pieces written by Warren Benson, Joseph Tompkins, Frank Zappa, and myself. Here are some notes on each of the individual tracks.
1. The Black Page #1 (Frank Zappa) arr. Sweeney
Initially written as a drumset solo, I have modified and arranged it for solo snare drum. Measure 15 is the infamous tuplet rhythm defined in a half note triplet frame. Measure 27 and 29 have the 11 note phrase played in one beat.
2. French –American Rudimental Solo #5 (Joseph Tompkins)
This is a cut-time triplet solo with a few interesting accents along the way.
3. French-American Rudimental Solo #1 (Joseph Tompkins)
A 3/4 solo that is very untypical in every way. The use of asymmetrical phrases and quintuplets throughout can be clearly heard.
4. Douze Etudes #1 (Delecluse)
The 6/8 classic. One of the great solos of this genre. Interesting use of quintuplets later on.
5. Douze Etudes #2 (Delecluse)
A 3/4 solo with plenty of dynamics
6. Douze Etudes #3 (Delecluse)
2/4 time with many quasi Swiss triplet figures.
7. Douze Etudes #4 (Delecluse)
A mixed meter festival. Changing time signatures throughout.
8. Douze Etudes #5 (Delecluse)
A very interesting solo in 5/8 time. This solo is over the barline in every way.
9. Douze Etudes #6 (Delecluse)
This is a 2/4 solo that uses flams and drags in very difficult ways. Quite a challenge to play at the prescribed 80 bpm.
10. Douze Etudes #7 (Delecluse)
This is a deceptively difficult piece for 3/8. Some strange, displaced figures throughout.
11. Douze Etudes #8 (Delecluse)
Another mixed meter solo.
12. Douze Etudes #9 (Delecluse)
This is the classic 6/8 solo that so many have performed for their percussion recitals. The figures and dynamic contrasts are really unique.
13. Douze Etudes #10 (Delecluse)
This is a mixed meter solo that presents many hurdles. It starts in ¾ ,moves to 6/8, then 4/8, 5/8 and so on. A great composition.
14. Douze Etudes #11 (Delecluse)
Here is a cut time piece where the suggested tempo marking is half note equals 160. The grace notes are really difficult starting in the 10th measure.
15. Douze Etudes #12 (Delecluse)
The last piece of the Douze Etudes is another mixed meter masterpiece. The time signatures are changing almost constantly.
16. Three Dances: Cretan Dance (Benson)
This is a classic trilogy written by Warren Benson in the 1960’s. The Cretan dance is in a quick 5/4 with the snares off. The composer indicated that the drum be played in the center and near the rim to get different tonal effects. There is also the use of the “stick on stick” technique in various spots, as well as wide dynamic shifts.
17. Three Dances:Foxtrot (Benson)
Here Benson composed a middle section to be performed with one stick (right hand) and one brush (left hand).
18. Three Dances :Fandango (Benson)
The finale is a lively ¾ that makes use of another “stick on stick” technique to get a roll effect.
19. French-American Rudimental Solos #2 (Tompkins)
Tompkins has composed a solo that uses triplets in 4/4 with many French rudimental influences. Lots of “studder” steps throughout.
20. French-American Rudimental Solos #3 (Tompkins)
A 2/4 solo with some interesting “hiccups”.
21. Portraits in Rhythm #1 (Cirone)
This is the classic solo from the beginning of Anthony Cirone’s book. Here is a great example of theme and variation.
22. March And…(Sweeney)
This is the first of my original compositions on the recording. It’s in 4/4 with a primary theme that is restated throughout, but partially obscured. I used the polyrhythm of 5:2 as the basis for much of the theme.
23. Too Many Words (Sweeney)
Another original of mine, this has a mixed meter theme of 4/4, 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, 4/4, 5/4 to intentionally throw off the symmetry. The quarter note triplet is the dominant voice here.
24. The Black Page #3 (Zappa arr. Sweeney)
I got the idea to take snare arrangement of the Black Page #1 and play it backwards (retrograde). At moments it’s a literal retrograde, at other times it isn’t. It moves from the end to the beginning in a conventional manner with some minor adjustments.