Early Percussion Repertoire of the 20th Century

  • Histoire du Soldat

    by Igor Stravinksy
    • First piece for multi-percussion
    • Born out of necessity for a music/theater act that is small and can easily travel (Stravinsky had left Russia due to the Bolshevik Revolution)
    • 3 versions of the percussion score/set-up by William Kraft, Morris Lang, and James Blades (the latter is the most commonly used)
  • La Création Du Monde

    by Darius Milhaud
    * The earliest chamber orchestra piece to include drumset
    * Inspired by jazz and focuses on the African myths of creation
    * Was originally a ballet
  • Ballet Mécanique

    by George Antheil
    • Originally with film, though the piece ended up being twice as long as the film
    • Antheil wrote the piece as a statement about the increasing importance/presence of machines, akin to Futurist manifestos
    • The 1953 revision is scored for glockenspiel, small and large airplane propeller sounds, gong (tam-tam), suspended cymbal, woodblock, triangle, military drum, tambourine, small and large electric bells, tenor drum, bass drum, 2 xylophones, and four pianos
  • The Nose

    By Dimitri Shostakovich
    * The opera's entr'acte was written solely for ten percussionists
    * Shostakovich's percussion writing for the opera was demanding, especially for the xylophone
    * The extensive percussion writing contributed to the bad reviews of the opera
  • Ritmicas No. 5 & 6

    by Amadeo Roldán
    • Considered the first percussion ensemble piece
    • Scored for 4 sets of claves, guiro, cencerros, maracas, quijada del burro, bongos, timbales, timpani, bombo, and marimbula
    • The short pieces are both based on 3-2 son clave
  • Concerto pour batterie et petite orchestra

    by Darius Milhaud
    * First concerto for percussion soloist (excluding timpani concertos)
    * Scored for 4 timpani, triangle, suspended cymbal, cowbell, woodblock, a pair of crash cymbals, castanets, slapstick, ratchet, tambourine, tam-tam, and 3 graduated drums w/o snares
  • Ionisation

    by Edgard Varèse
    • Though not the first percussion ensemble piece, it was by far the most influential due to Varèse's prestige and the piece's construction, timbral strength, and "organized sound"
    • Scored for 13 percussionists, utilizing 40 percussion instruments
  • Quartet

    by John Cage
  • IV

    by Johanna Beyer
  • Auto Accident for Percussion

    by Harold Davidson
  • Trio

    by John Cage
  • Dance Rhythms

    by Doris Humphrey
  • Three Inventories of Casey Jones

    by Ray Green
  • Tambourin Chinois

    by Fritz Kreisler (for violin and piano)
    Arranged by George Hamilton Green (for xylophone and piano)
  • Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

    by Béla Bartók
    * The percussion writing explored extended techniques, per usual with Bartók's music
    • The percussion not only added color and accentuated the piano parts, but also took on melodic/soloistic roles as well (esp. Movements 2 & 3)
  • Bomba

    by Lou Harrison
  • First Construction (in Metal)

    by John Cage
  • Pulse

    by Henry Cowell
  • Suite for Percussion

    by Lou Harrison
  • Double Music

    by John Cage and Lou Harrison
  • Fugue

    by Lou Harrison
  • Third Construction

    by John Cage
  • Credo in US

    by John Cage
  • October Mountain

    by Alan Hovhaness
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 3

    by John Cage
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 2

    by John Cage
  • Amores

    by John Cage
  • 27' 10.554" for a Percussionist

    by John Cage
  • Zyklus No. 9

    by Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Circles

    by Luciano Berio
  • Knocking Piece

    by Ben Johnston
  • Conversation

    by Akira Miyoshi
  • King of Denmark

    by Morton Feldman
  • Sonata for Xylophone Solo

    By Thomas Pitfield
    *the first piece written for xylophone that requires more than one mallet per hand
  • Touch & Go/Plot/Stalks & Trees & Drops & Clouds

    by Herbert Brün
  • Mutatis Mutandis

    by Herbert Brün
  • Drumming

    by Steve Reich
  • Clapping Music

    by Steve Reich
  • Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III)

    by George Crumb
  • Three Pieces for Drum Quartet

    by James Tenney
  • Psappha

    by Iannis Xenakis
  • Branches

    by John Cage
  • Pléïades

    by Iannis Xenakis
  • Rain Tree

    by Toru Takemitsu
  • Marimba Spiritual

    by Minoru Miki