Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

James Campbell


Premise and Objectives

In our increasingly technology driven society, the impact of technology touches nearly every aspect of our lives in some form or another. This has been acutely felt within the world of percussion, with electroacoustic works representing perhaps the most rapidly expanding area of concert percussion over the last twenty years. Electroacoustic music couples electronic technology with traditional acoustic instruments and/or performance practices.

Broadly, this paper outlines a systematic approach to teaching electroacoustic performance practice, based on elements found in a cross-section of percussion literature. In using such an approach, not only does each student become more capable of dealing with this growing body of literature, but also the process of educating these students becomes more efficient for the teacher. As a result, delivery becomes more effectively standardized, and resources can be shared more efficiently among multiple students who may be studying different types of electroacoustic repertoire.


To organize this exploration, three main genres of electroacoustic repertoire for percussion are compared: prerecorded soundscape, live processing, and electronic pieces. This comparison illuminates the tools and techniques that are relevant to each type of repertoire and reflects not only the narrower focus of electroacoustic percussion, but also the broader goals of applied percussion instruction in the context of a “total” percussion program.

Each classification is explored by addressing its critical elements using prime examples from the relevant standard repertoire. For the first classification of works, tape pieces, the project includes discussion on signal flow, balancing electronic and acoustic sound sources, an introduction to digital audio workstations (DAWs), and monitoring techniques. Two primary examples of the repertoire are used to contribute to this discussion; Javier Alvarez’s Temazcal for maracas and tape, and Brian Blume’s Strands of Time.

Live processing works present increased challenges with concepts, including sound reinforcement, recording production, how to edit and creatively manipulate sound both in post-production and live, and detailed concepts of signal flow, often including MIDI protocol. To explore the concepts specifically relevant to live processed works, Nigel Westlake’s classic work, Fabian Theory, for amplified marimba and three toms, is offered.

Electronic works give students further opportunity to explore MIDI mapping, patch and parameter changes using both hardware and software, and sometimes sound design. In this context, there is a brief exploration of Steve Reich’s Violin Phase.

Finally, an exploration of Hans Werner Henze’s, Prison Song demonstrates how all of this technology and technique can come together in combination works. The work requires live sound reinforcement, pre-recorded soundscapes, separate monitoring, live processing, and live MIDI controllers. The paper closes with a brief summary of extra pedagogical considerations, including resource management, pedagogical philosophy, and further implications.


By examining the logical steps of pedagogically developing through the different broad categories of electroacoustic music, with an emphasis on its reflection of broader liberal values and critical applied analysis, it is believed that this research could yield a model for a more thoughtful approach for applied percussion teachers.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)