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.

ILPH-357

2 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 learn rhythmic techniques and song styles from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Students develop their performance skills through study of recordings, transcriptions, and supervised ensemble playing.

 

ILPH-359

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

A lab focusing on rhythmic techniques and song styles of Brazilian music and their related percussion instruments. Development of performance skills through study of audio and video recordings as well as supervised ensemble playing. Note: ILPH-357 may be taken instead of this course.

ILPH-371

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: ILPH-293, ILPH-357, or overall ensemble rating 4
Department Code: PERC

Continuation of ILPH-357 and ILPH-359. Development of more advanced techniques and concepts through deeper examination of evolution and derivations of the rhythmic styles. Intended course outcomes include performance-level group playing and improvisation as well as soloing.

ILPH-391

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

In this course, students learn the setup of all the steelpan instruments and the basic techniques of steelpan performance. This includes scale learning and sticking techniques. Students also learn to apply these techniques through simple arrangements that highlight the characteristic rhythms and comping (accompanying) patterns.

ILPH-429

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

With emphasis on R&B, rock/funk, swing, motown, and pop styles, this course explores the study of small hand percussion: tambourine, shakers, cowbells, and cabasa, as well as congas, bongos, and timbales, individually as well as in combination with each other to form multiple percussion setups. Transitions, groove building, and coordination techniques will be analyzed in class. Chart reading and interpretation, as well as some transcription techniques, will be covered throughout the semester. Knowledge of basic conga techniques is strongly recommended.

ILPH-451

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

An intensive study of Guinean music from the Susu, Mandinka, Fulani, Bambara, Soninke, and Baga speaking people of French West Africa. Areas of focus include; interlocking support rhythms, call and response dialogues, and beat transposition along with unconventional hand and stick technique. Students will learn primarily from an oral tradition approach.

ILPH-P365

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

An introduction to timbale playing that will cover the history of the instrument from its Creole origins when it was still a timpani, to the contemporary timbale set-up: three cowbells, bass drum, cymbals, jam-block, and snare. This course will cover danzón, cha-cha, mambo, pilon, Mozambique, traditional salsa, and songo styles. With each style, the student will learn to play a tune in that genre and study stylistically appropriate patterns, fills, and solo material. This course is highly recommended for drum set principals who wish to improve their overall understanding of Latin music though adaptation of timbale playing concepts to the drum set.

ILPM-121

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

In this course, students with no prior mallet experience will develop fundamental skills, including four-mallet technique, pedaling and dampening, through the execution of melodies and harmonic progressions drawn from The Great American Songbook, as well as other popular and classical musical literature. Basic improvisation techniques are also introduced.

ILPM-221

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: ILPM-121 or overall ensemble rating 2
Department Code: PERC

In this course, students will develop and refine mallet keyboard playing skills including the four mallet grip, playing scales with various sticking combinations, dampening techniques and sight-reading. Students also will learn about and apply concepts in music theory, improvisation, and chord voicings. In addition, students will play and improvise on compositions that address many styles. 

ILPM-231

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Spring Only
Required of: None
Electable by: All percussion principals
Prerequisites: HR-112 and overall ensemble rating 3
Department Code: PERC

This class teaches students to develop musicianship skills by concentrating on the integration of harmony, melody, rhythm and dynamics through analysis and performance. Additionally, students will be able to identify melodic/harmonic movement in a single line piece.

ILPM-341

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

This course emphasizes skills essential for marimbists and percussionists to develop a personalized repertoire and contribute to performance literature for marimba. Students will learn to adapt music for marimba (and other mallet and percussion instruments) from sources such as music for guitar, piano, string quartet, orchestra, and pop bands. Some may opt to arrange music based on lead sheets or transcribe music from recordings. Students will sight-read, rehearse, and perform each other’s projects. Performances in an end-of-term concert will be scheduled. In addition, works composed for the marimba will be studied and performed to provide an overview of the range of available literature, performance styles, and leading performers worldwide.

ISPC-221

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: John Ramsay
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: None
Electable by: MUED and MTHE majors
Prerequisites: None
Department Code: PERC

In this course, students will learn and study the fundamentals of percussion as it applies to classroom instruction of elementary/secondary methods and materials.

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