Project 2 – exploring time signatures

The instructions for the third and fourth studies in this project are to create percussion duets with less familiar time signatures – 5 and 7 beats to the bar respectively.  I have made notes on my research into this area in my learning log here.

In this first example in 5/4 time, I decided on a regular pattern to the beat groupings: a bar of 3+2 followed by two bars of 2+3.  As I noted from my reflection on Boris Blacher’s music, my ear tends to be drawn to patterns that can be easily distinguished.  I tried to achieve this here by emphasising the grouping arrangement from the start with a grace note on the castanets in the appropriate place, and reinforcing it with the sparse accompanying line on the Iya drum playing on the same beats.  I also decided to use dynamics to further highlight the pattern (louder in the first bar of each repetition of the pattern).

A note on the instruments: the Iya is a type of Bata drum, a cylindrical shaped instrument traditionally played in Cuba and made from leather.  At the end of the piece I made this instrument the focus of the music and experimented with some rapid changes in dynamics.

Project 2-3


My second study is in 7/4 time, and this time I experimented with a closer relationship between the two instruments (i.e. the individual lines only make sense when played together), which I found harder to achieve to my satisfaction.  Every second bar is a repeat of the previous bar with the two instruments swapped over, as they though are doing a dance with each other.

Project 2-4

Project 2 – duets

The second project in this section of the course invites us to start writing for two percussion instruments.  In this first example I am passing the main rhythmical idea from the snare drum to the triangle, which adapts the idea slightly with accompaniment (I thought of it as a kind of encouragement!) from the snare drum.

Project 2-1


In the second example I decided to use the egg shaker as a simple accompaniment to the more elaborate line of the bongos.  As the bongos line intensifies, the accompaniment matches it with a more energetic rhythm.


Project 2-2

P.S. Hooray – I have now figured out how to export images from Sibelius so no longer have to remember how to take screenshots on my Mac laptop!