This book is a blend of art and science, with the art being music and the science being bibliography. The book is divided into three sections that discuss subject of music theory, scholarly sources and new publications from the later half of the 20th century. Dr. Geary Larrick is publishing yet another percussion book, which along with his other publications, must make him the most prolific writer on percussion music since James Blades. Geary Larrick gained his expertise through the usual steps of performance and academic work. All his degrees are in the field of percussion music: a bachelor's at Ohio State, a master's at Eastman School of Music, and a doctorate at the University of Colorado. During all his years of training, Dr. Larrick performed on drum set and all instruments of the classical percussion battery. He specialized on timpani, however, which enabled him to play in several professional orchestras. Moreover, when opportunity called, he served a term as conductor of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his performances, Dr. Larrick served as professor and mentor to many percussion students in a full-time position at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. I knew him there as a colleague and played bass in his jazz/fusion band. Dr. Larrick wrote and arranged parts for the band as he began to explore serious composition. He formed his own successful publishing company, G and L Music, as an outlet for his many compositions and books. Nevertheless, it has been as author that Dr. Larrick his made his most enduring impact in the field. Starting at the time of his professorship, he has published continuously in percussion journals and other media. Before attempting to write the present work, in fact, Dr. Larrick had published six previous monographs! The work in question, Theory and Composition of Percussion Music, is his latest major effort. It contains a narrative section in prose and a documentary section in bibliographical form. In reality the book is organized into three components: Section 1: essays, Section 2: a bibliography of the Music Theory section of the college library, and finally Section 3: a bibliography of percussion methods. The narrative component is in prose and the bibliographies contain extensive commentary under each title. The essays of Section 1 are generally analytical, but they often contain a percussionist's insight or biographical musings. Here the reader will find: an introduction to music fundamentals from a percussionist's viewpoint, a running commentary on the percussion literature through the historical eras, the value of musicianship, the challenges of performing at conventions and of reviewing books and recordings, and the plight of all percussionists. New percussionists will value Dr. Larrick's explanations on how to use the standard databases in music and how to find percussion the literature (including books, scores, and recordings). The young percussionist will note how a musician's versatility is the key to making career connections. The books and the few articles in Section 2, all organized alphabetically by author's surname - from Bachmann to Zarro, are of special interest to the percussionist. Most of the items are available in the Music Theory section of the library. The works of interest here are those of composers, theorists and percussionists, but a few ethnic and foreign musicians, like Shinichi Suzuki, have drawn some commentary, as well. Here the range of the percussion literature comes into view, through the periods of Western classical and popular music; there is also a hint of the percussionist's role in the universe of non-Western music. The third and final section of the book deals with percussion methods and compositions. Here, again, Dr. Larrick provides a bibliography along with a running, unpretentious, often amusing commentary. Performers, percussion instructors, and instrumental teachers will find this section useful in identifying the best methods for percussion instruments, easy pieces, contest music, as well as performing editions of the standard classical literature, and editions of jazz and Latin pieces--all laced with some of the most important percussion personalities of the world. Perhaps the greatest value of this book is in the personal asides. The highs and lows of a career are brought into the open, including the pitfalls and problems that beset one fine percussionist. A career musician will value these moments and hopefully avoid the problems encountered by a peer in the field. Thus, no professional percussionist's library will be complete without this book.
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Geary Larrick retired from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1985. He has written for publication since 1966, including four earlier books with Mellen. Geary Larrick Papers is a special collection in performing arts, at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Larrick performs regularly on percussion and piano.Review:
"....the greatest value of this book is in the personal asides. The highs and lows of a career are brought into the open, including the pitfalls and problems that beset one fine percussionist. A career musician will value these moments and hopefully avoid the problems encountered by a peer in the field. Thus, no professional percussionist's library will be complete without this book." - (From the Commendatory Preface) Richard Pinnell (Ph.D., UCLA), University of Wisconsin-La Crosse"
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