Percussion music is incredibly eclectic. Not necessarily eclectic as in taste, but eclectic in style and instrumentation. A violinist plays one instrument, a violin, but a percussionist plays hundreds, maybe even thousands. The word percussion, by definition, does not refer to a single object or instrument. It describes a family of instruments, which then includes sub-categories, such as keyboard percussion, multiple percussion, accessory percussion, membranophones, idiophones; the list goes on and I still haven't even mentioned a singular instrument. This is all to say that classical or contemporary percussion music is vast and wide-ranging.
The following four playlists represent suggested listening. They are not intended to be a catch-all of everything that has been recorded, but rather some of the most creative and significant works composed for percussion instruments (listed in no particular order).
Percussion - New Releases (79 tracks, 8 hours)
The past year or so have been particularly good for listeners seeking great percussion recordings. Here are some of the best new releases from the genre. I will continue to update this list as new albums become available.
Percussion - Solo (26 tracks, 2 hours)
Artistry as a solo percussionist takes on many forms. I kept this list short, but it represents a good variety what is possible as a soloist behind a percussion instrument or multi-percussion set-up.
Percussion - Ensemble (71 tracks, 9 hours)
The Percussion Ensemble is a 20th-century invention. It has really turned into an incredible compositional tool and means of expression.
Percussion - Mixed Chamber (54 tracks, 6 hours)
Percussionists make for great collaborators and there is no better example than in chamber music. This playlist includes great works that feature percussionist with a mixture of non-percussion instruments.
Guest post by Thad Anderson, a member of the percussion faculty at The University of Central Florida. In addition to the percussion area, he also teaches courses in music composition and technology. Anderson is a versatile performer and pedagogue with interests that span contemporary music, historic percussion ensemble literature, design, conducting, and technology.