Project 1 : Percussion Solos

The task of the first project is to compose four short contrasting pieces for untuned percussion instruments of own choice.


  1. Snare Drum

I myself find it difficult sometimes to start with projects, but in this exceptional case, it was easy for me to begin with the first piece due to some notes I made before I transferred it to Sibelius where I developed the sample further.

Skizzen für Projekt 1 Percussion Solo 1 Snare Drum
The notes I developed the piece from

For the reason that it is my first composition with a correlation to my studies I wanted the piece to be rather easy structured. In terms for my choice for the instrument I was initially thinking about an eastern percussion instrument but changed it for a more common instrument (the snare drum) due to the more western sounding arrangement.

Project 1 Percussion Solo 1 Snare Drum Screenshot
The finished version-short and simple for a start


2. Dumbek

For the second piece I came back to my initial idea of writing something eastern related. I began with doing some research for typical eastern sounding untuned percussion instruments and came across an instrument called Darbuka or Goblet Drum.1

Egypt drum Darbuka
Darbuka- Common used percussion instrument from the eastern culture (4)

I informed myself about the instrument, studying its sounds and how one plays it. Doing this, I discovered that it can make three different sounds: The first sound, called “doum” is a low bass sound, produced by touching the head of the instrument with the fingers and palm. The second tone is known as “tek” and is created by beating close to the edge of the head. The last sound is called “pa” which involves a resting rapidly (content from Wikipedia, 2018) hand placed on the head to keep the tone closed.2


Project 1 Percussion 2 Dumbek Skizze
My notes on the second composition


As I found it very helpful to start with some hand-written notes for the first composition and made some annotations in advance for this piece as well.




Furthermore, I learned that most of the easiest eastern-traditional rhythms are written in a 2/4 rhythm. Therfore I went for the same one with my own piece.3

Project 1 Percussion Solo 2 Dumbek Sibelius Screenshot



1 Content from Wikipedia. (2018). Goblet Drum. (online) Available at :

2 Content from Wikipedia. (2018). Goblet Drum. (online) Available at:

3 Content from Wikipedia. (2018). Goblet Drum. (online) Available at:

4 Alibaba. (2018). Arabic Egyptian Drum Darbuka. (online) Available at:

3. Cajon

For my third piece I took ideas that suited my personal preerences. Due to my predilection for jazz I decided to write the piece in an rather unusual 5/4 time signature. My choice for the instrument was a bit harder this time. I firstly had a look online wheter I could find one or more percussion instruments, that were particulary often used in jazz. After a while of researching I decided to use a Cajon, which is an instrument that some of my classmates or even I myself sometimes used for several group projects in my former music-orientated school.

The Cajon (3)

The instrument itself originated from the time when men and women where still traded as slaves. Especially, when people were transported on ships, some of them started to use boxes for transported goods as drums to pass the time. From there the Cajon wandered over the rest of the world. Nevertheless, it only was recognised as an important rhythm-instrument around the 1970s, which was particularry often heard in the spanish flamenco-music.1

A Cajon can produce two different sounds: A so called „bass-sound“, which, not surprisingly, sounds low and bassy. One can generate it through hitting the middle field of he instrument with the palm.  And the “Slap-Sound” which is generated by hitting the corner of the instrument with the fingertips.2

Priject 1 Percussion Solo 3 Cajon Skizze
Some scetches or the piece I made beforhand








Project 1 Percussion Solo 3 Cajon Screenshot



1 Bührle, S. (2017) Cajon Hintergrundwissen-das solltest Du wissen! (online) Available at:

2 Kühl, J. (2018) Ratgeber Cajon (online) Available at:

3) (2018) Cajon, 4 snare wire (onine) Available at:

4. Bongos

The procedure for writing this piece varies a bit from the ones before. In this case I haven’t made any sketches beforehand nor have I informed myself about the instrument. Seeing that I have some Bongos at home myself I briefly know how they are played (I still did some research afterwards). Due do the fact that I started writing the piece with Sibelius and not in my notebook I was finished within one or two hours, which is a bit less time than it usually takes me to write one piece, but I therefore had to make more brakes to get some new ideas.

The Bongo is well known a two headed drum, which has its origin in Cuba. The Spanish name for the larger head of the drum is “hembra”, which can be translated to “female”, whilst the smaller one is called “macho”, which means “male”. It first came up at around 1900 and was mainly used for the Latin American Dance.1,2

Project 1 Perrcussion Solo 4 Bongos Screenshot




1 Lotha, G. (2016) Bongo drums (online) Available at:

2 Content from Wikipedia. (2018) Bongo Drum (online) Available at:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s