day 2 of the #12daysofdelécluse: why record delécluse?

today is day 2 in the ever exciting series the #12daysofdelécluse. yesterday i laid out the entire schedule of events leading up, and i posted étude #1 from the album. i’ve gotten such a positive response from the first étude that i’ve decided to leave it up! 

throughout the recording process i was asked lots of things about the project, but none more than this: “why?” that's not to say that people haven’t been supportive - normally peoples’ first reaction is usually, “it’s about time!” i’m glad that people brought up the “why,” though, because it gets right to the heart of the issue. 

the elephant in the room.

Percussion hacker

let’s all get one thing out of the way - you’re not going to turn on delécluse études for your grandma while she’s reading your little sister a bedtime story. no. it’s not even something that traditional classical music listeners might particularly seek out. it is, however, something that a large, dedicated group of percussionists are absolutely devoted to learning, performing and perfecting. in fact, the delécluse: douze études are our shared experience as percussionists - everyone finds them, struggles with them, auditions with them, and learns something about themselves along the way.

the point is education.

in the evolution of human kind, percussion education has come an incredible distance. it was only 20 years ago that students had to send their audition tapes for undergrad by donkey and carriage to reach its destination. (ha.) now, students are converting their audition tapes to tiny bits of electricity and beaming them through very small wires instantly to their destinations. fellows at the new world symphony in miami beach are playing real-time mock auditions for teachers in chicago, students are posting audition tapes to youtube, and thousands of people are communicating about important percussion subjects on facebook groups like orchestral percussion talk as though they’re all in the same room, standing around a drum together.

Percussion Hacker

every new idea can plant its seed and sprout into an even better idea from someone else. i want to document my playing, my ideas, and my research, broadcast that information around the world, and then come back in 10 years and see how things have changed. know what i mean?

motivation, not location, should decide your fate.

i started learning these pieces in high school in chelsea, michigan, with two great teachers - michael udow and brian jones. i was one of the lucky ones. it was an absolute power pairing: every piece i played received treasured commentary and review from two of the greatest minds in percussion pedagogy. i used the études to learn about phrasing, rubato, sticking decisions, soft rolls, and basically every important element of percussion that exists. 

even though i had great resources at my fingertips, i still felt as though i was missing out on something. namely, i wanted to hear the interpretations of these fine pieces from players around the united states and the world. just as i would listen to 10 bach recordings for musical ideas, or 7 appalachian spring recordings for tempo ideas as i previously discussed, i wanted more information from the greats of my industry. i searched for any resources and found absolutely none. 

is this montana? i don't know.

is this montana? i don't know.

even worse, think about the extremely rural percussionists - the ones who live in states like montana without a major symphony orchestra (although i just found this wonderful little website about the various regional orchestras of that fine state). you know who you are. with the advent of the internet, (even antarctica is connected!) students should only be limited by their own motivation, not their geographical region or financial situation.

let me reiterate: if you don’t have a teacher in a top professional symphony orchestra or major music school, you should still be able to work your butt off and win a great job. 

the more the merrier!

is this the definitive recording of delécluse: douze études for snare drum? well, yes, currently, but only in the way that it’s the only professional recording. someone might release a new, better version next month that totally blows this one out of the water. i welcome that. i’ve heard rumors of other professional percussionists with this album idea. wouldn’t it be great to know how these pieces are played by all of your favorite celebrity percussionists? 

speaking from the perspective of my 15-year old former self, i would be geeking out at the prospect of hearing the the world's great snare drummers’ versions of the delécluse études. i say this: the more the merrier! i hereby invite any other teachers or professional percussionists to record some or all of these, and i will gladly present them on this blog, for the benefit of all. i’ll start with a video that helped inspire this project, a wonderful rendition of delécluse étude 1, super professionally done:

delécluse: étude 1 by the great chicago symphony orchestra percussionist patsy dash:


cd/dvd album. delécluse: douze études for snare drum
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released on october 26th, rob knopper’s album, delécluse: douze études for snare drum, celebrates the fiftieth anniversary and the first-ever recording of snare drum’s most influential and elaborate composition. featuring 11 camera angles, rob knopper’s CD+DVD set was recorded in high-resolution audio and video in miami beach’s new world center.

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want to see my complete snare drum setup?

here’s my 8-piece snare drum setup, including every piece of gear and accessory you'll need. (and it's totally audition-ready, too.)


rob knopper

lincoln center plaza, 10023

hailed by @nytimes and james levine as needing 'louder triangle notes'. recorded delécluse: douze études for snare drum, percussionist in @metorchestra.