Monday, April 23, 2012

Spotify Orchestra: Four Playlists for Percussion

Spotify Orchestra is an ongoing series that focuses on the instruments, featuring playlists curated by professional players. Previous posts including Horn, Trumpet, Harp and Theremin. Below is a guest post by percussion virtuoso Thad Anderson. Thad made four wonderful playlists that cover lots of exciting percussion music from drum improvisation by Glenn Kotche (of Wilco fame) to Steven Schick's breathtaking performance of Xenakis. I discovered many unknown gems in his playlists, and hope you find them helpful as well. 

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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.

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