Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Moore, Daniel Preston

First Committee Member

Gier, David

Second Committee Member

Heidel, Richard

Third Committee Member

Jones, William

Fourth Committee Member

Kastens, Kevin


The drum set is an evolving instrument and performance concept that for much of its existence has been relegated to a supporting role for an ensemble or soloist in varied mediums, rather than being used, as is well suited for, in a soloistic capacity. Drum set had rather humble beginnings and was often a collection of percussion instruments used only for time-keeping and adding color to the music. However, over time, a considerable amount of solo literature has been composed for drum set and there now exists a substantial repertoire for the varied forms of the instrument. Support for the literature and art form has come from numerous well known composers ranging from John Cage to Stuart Saunders Smith and Frank Zappa. Unfortunately, resistance to performing these solo works comes from a broad-based teaching philosophy that emphasizes teaching rudimental, time-keeping, and stylistic performance practices. In this particular paradigm, soloing is important strictly as improvisation grounded in a thorough understanding of the development of the language of Jazz, rather than as a performance concept. Although this repertoire does include works that address these pedagogical concerns, it also includes some works that present the drum set in more virtuosic solo setting. These compositions offer the performer musical opportunities much like those found in solo works for snare drum, keyboard percussion, timpani, and multiple percussion. While a performer may face an initial challenge in finding quality existing works, he or she can then develop synergy between the interpretive skills developed for orchestral style percussion In this study, the author will examine the body of literature composed for unaccompanied solo drum set. Specific compositions will be identified for their significance in promoting personal growth as a drum set artist. In support of this goal, analysis of the performance practice used in these particular works will be developed. To aid in better organizing the body of literature, the author will categorize


Drum Set, Solo


vii, 130 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 125-130).


Copyright 2012 Kevin Arthur Nichols

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