The evolving role and instrumentation of the wind band percussion section

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The instrumentation of the wind band has never been standardized and has continued to evolve and expand over time. However, the collections of wind instruments that are used has remained fairly consistent which is a contrast to the percussion section. While many percussion instruments have a long history, their use in the wind band is relatively new in comparison to the wind instruments. This document will explore the evolution of percussion instruments utilized in the wind band by examining several landmark pieces that changed the trajectory of percussion writing for wind bands. The number of percussion instruments as well as their function changed dramatically in the twentieth century and this trend has continued into the early twenty–first century. Several landmark wind band pieces can be linked to this function and instrumentation change. These pieces contributed to the lasting shift in the percussion’s role by requiring new instruments and playing techniques. This shift also created the need for more percussionists than the traditional four players used in the professional bands of the late nineteenth century. Many of the pieces prominently featured the percussion section rather than using them in their traditional function of ostinatos and cadence point support. These pieces shifted the function of the wind band percussion section and their impact can be traced into modern wind band literature.

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