Not every instrument that has the capability to produce multiple pitches should be used exclusively for melodic or harmonic purposes depending on the kind of musical piece you are trying to achieve.
While not every percussive instrument can play in a variety of pitches to make a melody – every melodic instrument can be used as a percussion instrument.
The best ways of doing so of turning a melodic instrument into a percussive instrument is to think of it like a drum:
- Have it keep the beat
- Have it employ rhythmic complexity with natural accentuation
- Have it focus down to one or two pitch classes (tonic and/or dominant)
- Have it be relatively staccato to avoid pitch ringing out
Having melodic instruments be more rhythmic/percussive can make your piece more “war-like,” have an accentuated groove, gain motion, and more.
If you feel like something is lacking in your piece, try it out and see what holes can be filled by simply having the melodic instruments at your disposal become rhythmic instruments.
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Author: Bryan M. Waring
Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging.
During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert.
Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego.
Now living in Nashville.
Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles.
Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing.
On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.
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