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NYT Excerpt: 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Percussion

Listen to the varied, explosive, resonant sounds of instruments struck, shaken, pounded, scratched.

Excerpt from the New York Times, Click here to read the full article.

In the past, we’ve chosen the five minutes or so we would play to make our friends fall in love with classical music, piano, opera, cello, Mozart, 21st-century composers, violin, Baroque music, sopranos, Beethoven, flute, string quartets, tenors, Brahms and choral music.

Now we want to convince those curious friends to love percussion — the resonant sound of instruments struck, shaken, pounded. We hope you find lots here to discover and enjoy; leave your favorites in the comments.

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Andy Akiho, composer and steel pan virtuoso

It’s an exciting era for percussion innovation and inspiration. Particularly new works with flexible instrumentation, because they really showcase an ensemble’s choices and personality. Sandbox Percussion’s multiple versions of Jason Treuting’s “extremes” are an awesome example of how a great composition can renew itself with each interpretation. It’s interesting to learn how the piece works and what inspired the material — rhythms drawn from the letters of six American cities — but most important, I just love listening to and watching it be performed, and I want to share that experience with you.

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Cynthia Yeh, Chicago Symphony principal percussionist

The most obvious traits of percussion in the orchestral realm are sheer power, intensity and terror — both overt, in-your-face terror and a subtler undercurrent of fear. Percussion is often used to create a color, a shimmer, a sparkle or crashing waves. The sounds we can make are limitless because our instruments actually are limitless; percussion is defined as anything one shakes, scrapes or strikes, and this is why I chose Christopher Cerrone’s “Memory Palace.” Almost all the instruments in this piece are D.I.Y.: planks of wood, pieces of pipe, bowls and bottles. It showcases the versatility of percussion — the range of instruments, the creation of rhythm, melody, harmony, character and mood.


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