Book Review: The Cambridge Companion to Percussion

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Developments in percussion performance practices, pedagogy, and industry are recognised as some of the major advancements to have taken place in western art music in the last century. Taking the composition dates of landmark percussion ensemble works Ritmicas No. 5 and No. 6 by Amadeo Roldán (1930) and Ionisation by Edgard Varèse (1929-31) as a point of departure, there are now nine decades of creative activity in this field. Although ‘the relatively short history of contemporary percussion music has forced percussionists to include research in their daily routines, in order to invent and master new instruments, and to accelerate their technical development’ (Huang, 2015), scholarly literature focussed on this creative research have not emerged in parallel. To date, publications focussed on percussion have been largely been confined to journal articles and dissertations. The Cambridge Companion to Percussion is one of a handful of recent book publications including The Percussionist’s Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams (Schick 2006) and The Modern Percussion Revolution: Journeys of the Progressive Artist (Lewis & Aguilar 2014) that begin to address a gap in the literature, and is a must-have for academic and personal libraries internationally. Russell Hartenberger, editor and author of two chapters in The Cambridge Companion to Percussion, states that he hopes that this collection of essays is ‘representative of the growing significance of percussion in Western music’ (p. 3), which this volume achieves.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalDirections of New Music
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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