so percussion

Summer Institute Application

Composition Guidelines

Application Deadline: Saturday, February 1, 2020

Program Dates: July 12-26, 2020

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Composition Parameters and Guidelines

The cornerstone of the composition program is your creation of 2 new pieces for performance by your percussionist colleagues. The first is a highly portable piece for concert(s) in the community, often in really interesting acoustic and social spaces. You’ll complete this piece before the summer institute begins. The second is for public reading in a more traditional concert setting, for which you will compose a draft before arriving at the festival.

A Note from Jason Treuting:

“The experimental percussion lineage that So Percussion feels connected to was born from the works of the 1930’s and 40’s that were written in NY and San Francisco by the likes of Edgar Varese, John Cage, Johanna Beyer, Lou Harrison, Carlos Chavez and many more composers who wrangled with the questions of how to organize sound without pitch. Some of this was by choice - composers Edgar Varese who used the noisy aspects of percussion playing to get closer to an electronic music/music of the future. Other times it was by necessity - composers like John Cage, being told they had no sense of harmony began DIY percussion projects with friends/amateurs using sounds they could find or purchase for cheap, like tin cans, rattles, buzzers and instruments that were flowing into New York and San Francisco from other parts of the world.

This history of making new structures out of noise feels unique to this lineage of Western classical music and is something that sets percussion playing apartment from other types of chamber music that is happening today.

Of course, there is also a wonderful history of percussion chamber music that includes pitch, but we feel like using SOSI as a time to explore different ways of organizing sound is important to us. Speaking personally, I have found it hard to organize my pieces without a harmony grounded in pitch and the exploration has been a healthy practice for me. We hope that this exploration can be helpful (or even enlightening!) to you as well.

For SOSI, we would like for at least of the pieces you write to be for unpitched sounds and we would welcome you to approach both pieces that way as well.

With that in mind, here is the instrumentation list for SOSI 2020.”

—Jason Treuting

Parameters for the portable piece:

Short duration (3’-5’)

extremely portable setup; handheld instruments and nontraditional instruments (i.e. various kinds of found objects) have worked really well in the past, as have more theatrical, so to speak, approaches. Pitched instrumentation

Parameters for the concert piece:

Slightly longer duration (5’-7’)

Unpitched Instrumentation

  • player 1: 1 set bongos, tabletop with 2 tin cans, 2 wood slats, 1 cowbell, 1 glass bottle
  • player 2: 2 congas, tabletop with 2 tin cans, 2 wood slats, 1 cowbell, 1 glass bottle
  • player 3: medium-high tom, high tom, tabletop with 2 tin cans, 2 wood slats, 1 cowbell, 1 glass bottle
  • player 4: low tom, medium-low tom, tabletop with 2 tin cans, 2 wood slats, 1 cowbell, 1 glass bottle

We encourage SoSI composers to approach writing for percussion instruments with originality and expansiveness. All instrument lists and electronic needs must be provided to SoSI's production coordinator in advance, and are subject to approval. Any unpitched instruments not listed above that are of compositional interest can be requested for approval.

We hope these parameters feel like exciting compositional challenges, and look forward to your applications.


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