The history of the Blackearth Percussion Group and their influence on percussion ensemble literature, performance, and pedagogy



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Background. During the period from 1972 through 1979, the Blackearth Percussion Group was considered to be a major influence on contemporary music and the percussion ensemble medium in the United States (W. Youhass, personal communication, November 15, 1985; T. Siwe, personal communication, November 13, 1985; Conway, 1981). The Blackearth Percussion Group began primarily as a quartet in 1972 as an experiment to raise the performance standards of contemporary percussion ensemble music. The group was founded on the belief that proper performance and interpretation of percussion music required extensive preparation that could best be realized by an ensemble dedicated to that goal on a full-time basis. During six of their seven-year history the group was in residence at two universities (Northern Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati), recorded several albums (Attica, Les Moutons de Panurge, Coming Together, Opus One, number 20; The Blackearth Percussion Group, Opus One, number 22; Jonathan Kramer - The Canons of Blackearth / Lawrence Moss - Toot Sweet, Opus One, number 31; Herbert Brun Compositions, Non Sequitur Records), and presented dozens of concerts, workshops, and clinics, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Purpose. The purpose of this study is to examine the history and influence of the Blackearth Percussion Group, and to define their role in the development of the percussion ensemble performance medium. Specifically, this study addresses the following research questions: 1. Did the Blackearth Percussion Group influence the programming, performance techniques, and rehearsal techniques of selected university percussion ensemble directors and performers, and thereby have a major influence on percussion pedagogy? 2. What influence did the Blackearth Percussion Group have on literature written for percussion ensembles? 3. What was the history of the Blackearth Percussion Group? 4. What was the performance literature of the Blackearth Percussion Group? [...]



Percussion music--History and criticism