Percussion Music at Music Library

NUS Music Library has an excellent collection of CDs. In this article, I’ve highlighted some percussion music for your listening pleasure.

Among the easy listening pieces is Ichiyanagi’s Paganini Personal for marimba and piano from Striking a Balance: Contemporary Percussion Music. This is a set of variations on the well-known 24th Caprice by Paganini. Written in 1982, it was first performed by Japanese percussionist Hiroyuki Iwaki.  The music moves through various moods, from beautiful to violent, and tuneful to tonally obscure.


Also from the same CD is the Prelude in A minor by J.S. Bach from the English Suite No. 2. It shows off the composer’s harmonic and contrapuntal genius where the performance on two marimbas explores the full lower register of the instrument as well as the rich middle-upper ranges.

Across the Sea has a good selection of percussion music from Zhou Long’s Five Elements and The Deep, Deep Sea, Bright Sheng’s Flute Moon and Chen Yi’s The Golden Flute. Scored for flute and orchestra, each element of metal, wood, water, fire and earth in Five Elements is represented in a separate movement in which the activities of yin and yang are manifested as the cyclic changes of nature regulating life on earth.

The Deep, Deep Sea is impressionistic in nature, and the relationship between the flute and ensemble of timpani, harp and strings evokes the “union of man and nature”. In The Golden Flute, the extreme contrasts between the low sonorities of the orchestra and the shrill passages of the solo part supported by the two piccolos and harp are brought to a climax, leading to a coda.


Consider listening to Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen-Suite, which is a brilliant transcription for strings and percussion. In it, the composer’s choice of instruments and tone colours gives the familiar sounding melodies in Bizet’s work unexpected rhythmic twists and subtle changes in notes and chords.




Another CD that is lightly textured is the Hammerhead Consort’s Music for Two Pianos and Percussion. Through intuitive manipulation of the dynamics, all four instruments (two pianos, vibraphone and marimba) in Linea are made to sound as one.

The imagery of the forest, composed of individual entities in the larger context, is cleverly expressed through the exploration of sound timbres of the live performers and the pre-recorded tape into a cohesive musical fabric. Hammer-Suite is made up of three movements.  The first, Magical Flight, has elements of the sonata form, jazz scales, asymmetrical rhythms and imitative writing. Images, the second movement, seems to improvise on motifs, rhythms, dynamics and visual images and Shaman’s Dance, the third movement, skilfully develops thematic materials from a four-note chromatic motif.

To search for more CDs on percussion music, check out our discovery service FindMore@NUSL.

Enter percussion in the text box.

Refine your search by selecting Items in the library catalog and Music Recording under Content Type.

Click on the desired title and take note of the stack number (e.g KC11607):

Next, retrieve the jewel case from the shelves and approach the staff at the loans desk for the CD.

Learn about your loan privileges for music materials here. Enjoy the music and head to Music Library for more delightful surprises!

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