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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Composing A Piece By Playing Drums

Dane Slinger

Junior, Music Composition


I composed a piece using the rhythms derived from my improvisations on drumset. In this piece I use polymeter, asymmetrical meter, and the concept of backbeat vs.melodic drumset playing. The final product is “Adrenalized”, a five minute piece for flute, bass clarinet, piano, violin, cello, bass, and drum set.

Project Background 

“Adrenalized” is a piece I wrote this semester for my applied composition course. To compose this piece, I used my extensive knowledge of drum set playing to compose motives and ideas for the rest of the instruments. My background and interest in heavy metal music can be heard throughout the piece. By improvising on drumset, I built up a foundation for the rest of the song. Almost all the instruments play material that is related to to the drumset part. I used advanced rhythmic techniques, such as asymmetrical meter, which is defined as any meter with a combination of simple and compound beats. I also used polymeter, which is when two different rhythmic meters occur simultaneously resulting in a unique composite rhythm. The concept of backbeat vs. melodic drum set playing is explored as well. The way a piece can be manipulated using the rhythmic structure of the drums is explored by these two concepts. The backbeat is the simple timekeeping style of playing, while playing melodically is more focused on atmosphere and melodic ideas that are not strictly metered. I’m proud of this piece because it shows my progress in composition as well as utilizing the things that got me into music school, drumming and heavy metal.

What Do You Think? 

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  1. Abby Shreve

    This was awesome Dane!! Thank you for the presentation. 🙂

  2. Morgan DiPietro

    This was a great project!! I really enjoyed your composition and learning about your creative process!

  3. Noah Eckstein

    DUDE! That piece was awesome! I’m excited to hear what you write next, keep up the good work 🙂

  4. Alison Shaw

    Great piece Dane! I am curious how you came up with your pitch material? It’s as awesome as the rhythmic structure!

  5. Joshua Kriegl

    That piece is FIRE Dane! I loved hearing about your compositional process as a drummer. Thank you for sharing this awesome achievement with us!

  6. Jana Slinger

    I learned some things about music and found the concept so interesting, that a piece could be composed from drums.

  7. Molly Hennig

    Such a dynamic and powerful piece, Dane! Way to go.

  8. Rachael Hanel

    Congratulations on a job well done!

  9. Riley Krupka

    I knew as soon as I saw the Slipknot t-shirt and broken cymbal that it would be an awesome piece! Keep up the great work Dane!


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