Percussion Courses

The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In percussion classes, you will learn the history of your instrument and analyze its present-day challenges while also pursuing a more in-depth study of styles and techniques. Below is a listing of all Percussion courses for the upcoming semester.

ILPD-229

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

In this course students will enhance their understanding of standard drum set repertoire in various hip-hop drumming styles. Songs will be analyzed, studied, and memorized. The course is designed to give students a working knowledge of the various types of drum set grooves associated with genre of hip-hop.

ILPD-233

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

In this course, students gain a wider knowledge of funk repertoire as well as an appreciation for the composers and musicians who helped shape funk music into an important part of the American musical landscape. Learning songs, performing the appropriate grooves, and independence skills are all emphasized.

ILPD-235

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overal ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

This course will examine polyrhythmic studies including multi-simultaneous patterns, metric modulation, and cross rhythms.

ILPD-239

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: None
Department Code: PERC

In this course, students will develop fundamentals of country drumming. They will have a clear understanding of the various groove patterns used in contemporary country music, including rock, ballads, swing, and shuffle feels.

ILPD-250

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

This performance-oriented lab draws on a global selection of musical genres including Indian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Balkan, and African traditions, and utilizes them as structural models or compositional inspiration for a variety of concise yet challenging sight-reading and recitation exercises. Each example is introduced both as a vocal exercise, using native mnemonic or other onomatopoeic syllables to represent the given notation, and performed on a variety of instruments, focusing primarily on the snare drum but also making use of hand percussion and drum set. This course will be of interest to anyone who wishes to advance his/her reading and interpretative skills while exploring new rhythmic concepts and languages outside the classical/orchestral and popular Western genres.

ILPD-317

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: ILPD-217
Department Code: PERC

In this course students improve on foundational skills, building on what was learned in ILPD-217 Brush Techniques with wire and specialty brushes. Studies will include ballad and swing sweeping patterns, as well as patterns that can be applied to jazz waltz, odd meter, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban accompaniment and contemporary popular styles. Advanced studies in the areas of hand-to-hand development, drum set coordination/balance, textural exploration, listening, repertoire, and transcription studies will also be included in the course.

ILPD-331

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: None
Department Code: PERC

This is a comprehensive course on functioning in today’s music world with the latest electronic instruments in contemporary percussion (Alternate Mode DrumKat, Roland Handsonic and SPD-30, Korg Wavedrum, etc.). The program includes work with electronic percussion controllers, drum machines, laptop software, and their programming, triggering, and interfacing.

ILPD-339

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

In this course students are introduced to the concept of fusion drumming. Utilizing recordings from bands like Weather Report, Return to Forever, The Headhunters, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and The Tony Williams Lifetime, students gain familiarity with the concept of fusion and how they can apply it practically. The course also uses examples from current groups like Robert Glasper, Brotherly, and Snarky Puppy.  Additionally, there are specific feels, mechanics, and rhythmic concepts that are introduced, aimed at providing students with the tools to play fusion music. Examples of contemporary funk, 6/8, 3/4, odd times, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian are utilized to construct the foundation necessary to play fusion.  

ILPD-351

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: None
Department Code: PERC

In this course students will discover and develop solutions to practical and logistical problems confronting the contemporary percussionist/drummer. Students will experiment with alternative setups designed to meet the demands of today's contemporary music and the student's own creative requirements. Topics include new hardware solutions, coordination exercises, and practical musical and orchestration choices. Various global music drumming traditions will be applied as catalysts in approaching alternative setups.  

ILPD-355

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

This course is a practical application of traditional African rhythms, their direct adaptation to the drum set and their use in contemporary Afro-pop music. It will examine and analysis many of the popular rhythmic concepts, metric meters, and styles of important Afro-Pop artists such as; Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Angélique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, King Sunny Adé, and Richard Bona.

ILPD-357

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: Written approval of course instructor
Department Code: PERC

In this course, students listen to traditional and contemporary examples music from Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia with a focus on the percussion rhythms and their application to the drum set. The students learn sample percussion patterns, performing them on percussion instruments and adapting them to the drum set. They also learn how to orchestrate these rhythms on different parts of the drum set and how to improvise in an authentic way in a modern setting.

ILPD-361

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: Drum set and total percussion principals
Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating 2
Department Code: PERC

A study and historical review of the distinctive drumming style of New Orleans, and its profound influence on jazz and popular music. Students listen to, analyze, and play examples of this rich heritage, from the early marching brass bands to the present.

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