Score published by Tapspace.

Scuttlebutt is my third in a series of groove-based pieces for intermediate and developing percussion ensembles. It follows Technology and Stormbreak, both of which rely on similar basic limited instrumentations, 8 players, and syncopated, repetitive patterns to which younger ensembles effectively relate.

The primary feel of Scuttlebutt has the drive of electronic dance music with half-tempo backbeat. Frequently bursts of four offbeat sixteenth notes are interjected to answer the primary melody. Through repetition, these bursts are designed to train young players to become familiar with the feel of rhythms common in funk music. Also, at various times triplet figures are overlaid in contrast to the more duple-based groove. While these may not be immediately intuitive for younger players, figures like these aren’t uncommon in percussion ensemble and other forms of chamber music. They’re introduced here in a way that’s relatable to the groove with the goal of making them feel comfortable despite their momentary rhythmic dissonance.

A series of solos feature the concert tom, snare drum, and timpani players, with smaller solo interjections from the rest of the ensemble as well. Near the end of the piece the half-time groove becomes a driving disco beat that can involve the audience clapping along before ultimately ending in a high-energy recap of the main theme.