Mt Hood Tapspace brain trust, We're headed to TMEA, Festival Score 3-Packs, VDL Tip: Panning your Instruments, Artist Spotlight - Ralph Hicks & Eric Rath
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Tapspace - creativity in percussion

February 2014 Newsletter


You know what that means for percussioners and drummists, don't you? That's right—nothing! 

In other news, we just returned from our version of the Batcave—a secluded cabin in the beautiful Mt. Hood wilderness—where we completed yet another extensive brain trust retreat where we map out our big picture plans. No fish or wildlife were harmed during this event. As our plans unfold in the coming months, we think you'll be pleased with what we're cooking up. Stay tuned! 
Photos from our booth at PASIC last month!
Tapspace co-founders Jim Casella and Murray Gusseck act out their favorite scenes from the movie "Deliverance."
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What's Happening

Our TMEA pallets are loaded up! Come see us in booth 2755!


It's almost Valentine's Day which, for us and most other people in the biz, means cupid gets a rain check and instead we head off to San Antonio for the Texas Music Educators Association convention. Who's excited??

We are! We have a new TMEA booth layout planned to showcase an impressive array of percussion ensembles, books, duets, and solos, including all of our UIL sanctioned solo & ensemble titles, and everything from our long list of latest releases!

Come see us in booth 2755, and we'll look forward to seeing y'all there!

New Service Available

FESTIVAL SCORE 3-PACKS!Festival Score 3-Pack

Competing at state-sanctioned festivals often requires the performing group to provide the judges with scores of the music they'll be playing. Festival Score 3-Packs are available for any of our duets or ensembles and are good for one event on the date you specify.

Simply fill in the requested information and place your order. We'll then assemble a set of 3 customized scores specifically for you and your ensemble! Each score also contains a signed letter of permission stating that the scores were obtained lawfully.


2014 Solo & Ensemble Music
If you haven't had a chance to look, all these new solos, duets, ensembles, and steel band pieces are available and in stock, along with full stock of our entire catalog on the Tapspace website. Check out all the new music here.

Featured Items


Beyond Basic Percussion


Beyond Basic Percussion was developed with one concept in mind: Help the percussionists in your ensemble become musically independent so you can spend more time making music and less time worrying about their logistics.

A bargain at $89, this package includes 10 percussion ensembles, ranging in level from beginning to intermediate, and a DVD that features multi-camera student performances of each piece. Also included are audio reference tracks, technique demonstration videos (also by students), and all parts in printable PDF format.

This innovative collection was developed by Texas band director/percussionists Eric Rath and Ralph Hicks. Scroll down to learn more about these guys and what makes them tick!
Mah-Ná Mah-Ná


for percussion ensemble

by Piero Umiliani, arr. Christopher Retschulte
Level: Med-Easy • Duration: 3:00

If you're looking for something fun and easy for your next concert, you really can't go wrong with this catchy little number made famous on The Muppet ShowLearn more...
Lattes on the House


for beginning percussion quintet

by Chris Roode
Level: Easy • Duration: 2:30

Written to teach the application of beginning rhythms to younger percussionists, Lattes is highly adaptable to different ensemble sizes and instrumentation scenarios. Learn more...
The River


for percussion ensemble

by Seth Adams
Level: Med-Advanced • Duration: 4:30

This hearty, programmatic work depicts a trip down New Hampshire's Ammonoosuc River, known for its beautiful waterfalls and chilly, clear water. Transport your audience for a brief time while challenging your ensemble! Learn more...


for percussion trio

by Tetsuro Naito, arr. Jeffery Crowell
Level: Med-Advanced • Duration: 6:00 • State Lists: Texas, Missouri

Originally written for the famous Taiko group, KODO, this intense arrangement requires the performers to blaze away with their hands and feet in "pseudo swing" rhythmic interpretation. Learn more...

Virtual Drumline Tip


This topic may be fall into the "well obviously!" file for some, however it's something we find many Virtual Drumline users don't consider when they're setting up their projects. Panning your instruments can make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your final mix. The pan setting simply controls the placement of the audio signal to specific points within the stereo spectrum.

By default, when you load up an instrument in VDL, the pan setting is in the center. All instruments in VDL are in stereo, so it'll sound perfectly nice like this if you don't touch it.

A freshly loaded tamboruine's pan settings are in the center.

However, if you're playing back more than one instrument simultaneously, it's a good practice to give each instrument its own placement in the stereo soundscape. If you don't, each instrument will essentially be sending their signals to the same aural position within the stereo field. Not only is this less realistic, it also just sounds BORING! Panning your instruments will bring your music to life and give it a much more dynamic sense of sparkle!

An example of how VDL instruments might be panned in a marching project.

If you're using a notation software program like Finale or Sibelius, you can simply set these pan settings in the host application's mixer. If you're using Kontakt as a multi-timbral plugin within a DAW program such as Logic Pro, Cubase, Digital Performer, etc., you can set the pan settings directly on the VDL instrument itself. In either case, each time you launch your project file, it'll load with these pan settings intact. It only takes a minute or so to make these settings and can go a long way towards creating a better overall sound. It's worth it!

Just be careful not to use BOTH methods of panning (in the program's mixer AND in the VDL instrument itself). Doing so will affect the overall presence of your instruments in a negative way.

So there ya have it! There's more to your mix than just volume levels and dynamics. If you haven't been doing this, you'll be amazed at how panning your instruments within the stereo image can bring new life to your VDL playback.

Artist Spotlight

Ralph Hicks & Eric Rath

Ralph Hicks
Eric Rath
This month, we feature a team of Tapspace artists. Both based in the Lone Star state of Texas, both Ralph Hicks and Eric Rath have a rich background as working percussionists and music educators, and are currently doing great things in the world of composition. While creating an impact in each of their individual musical pursuits, together Hicks and Rath have created some of the most effective, entertaining, and creative percussion teaching resources for young percussion students with the books Beyond Basic Percussion and Five Minute Drill.

This month, we had some time to get to know Eric and Ralph a bit better when we learned about their Netflix viewing habits, financial planning tips (the hard way), and 80's Spotify playlists!


What has been your biggest challenge in life?

Ralph Hicks: Recognizing, accepting, and trying my best to control a rabid Type A personality. Apologies to all my friends and coworkers over the years that I have repeatedly interrupted and talked over, because I’m an idiot (smiley-winky face) and can’t stop myself.

Eric Rath: Balance, by far. Being a husband, being a dad, a teacher, composer, arranger, church member, performer, etc. That, and coping with being constantly interrupted by Ralph in conversations.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

RH: Netflix binging, from House of Cards all the way down to Vampire Diaries. I mean, sure, Stefan and Elena are great together the first few seasons, but it quickly becomes obvious she was meant to be with Damon. Am I right?

ER: I have a sweet Spotify playlist called "Growing up in the 80's and 90's." It's a mix of what you might expect of me - things like Toto, Weezer, and The Police - to what I'd consider pretty "guilty" like Seal, Sheryl Crow, The B-52's, Fine Young Cannibals. I'm so ashamed!

Star Wars or Star Trek?

RH: Jar Jar notwithstanding, there is no right answer to this question. Be it a galaxy far, far away or the final frontier, there’s plenty of room for both, and everyone speaks English anyway.

ER: Dude. Star Wars. Hands Down. Han shot first.

Of all the pieces you've written or arranged, which one is your favorite, and why?  

RH: As my first genuinely “inspired” tune, Mi Milagro from "Beyond Basic Percussion" is my favorite. I wrote it for my daughter. I wanted her to know her Mexican roots even though she looks like Snow White. My son came second, he got a samba cadence.

ER: I don't know if it's my absolute favorite, but Escape Artist from "Beyond Basic Percussion" ranks right at the top. It was a "fast" composition -- written in basically a morning. When I sent it to Ralph, he wrote back to say, "I hate you." That's when I knew I must've gotten it right! 

Do you play with traditional or matched grip. Why?

RH: I was never a drumset player, and I'm never carrying a marching drum again. I really only use traditional grip now when I’m feeling lazy. By now the kids know that if I turn my hand over, that normally means I’m about to sit down and tell a story.

ER: Yes. Really, it depends on the style or context. Mostly, matched grip for me, but I prefer traditional on snare lines. Why? because it LOOKS cool, that's why.

What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already?  

RH: Without a doubt, personal financial planning. Understanding what to do with your money should be right up there with driving and calculating a tip in your head. It’s definitely a special kind of regret when you’re 25 years old and driving a Camaro, yet still paying for those nice dinners you bought back in college.

ER: Money management. Really, when it comes down to it, high school and college students need to be sat down and told how much credit card companies are literally banking on them being completely irresponsible with credit. It's sickening.

Learn more about Ralph and Eric on the Tapspace website, or by checking out their two wildly popular educational resources, Beyond Basic Percussion and Five Minute Drill.
Beyond Basic Percussion
Five Minute Drill

Video Submission of the Month

Ed Beesley performs a multi-camera rendition of "Rite of Passage" by Jesse Monkman.
For his final year project, Ed Beesley performed a multi-camera version of Jesse Monkman's "Rite of Passage" in the studio. The result is a creative and great performance!

To share videos of your latest performances of Tapspace music, click here. We'll look forward to hearing what you're doing with our music, and maybe we'll feature you here!

Share Concert ProgramsShare Concert Programs

Like our music? Want to help make sure more music like it is created in the future? 
By letting ASCAP know that you performed our pieces in concert, you’ll be supporting composers and Tapspace, and it doesn’t cost you a thing! Every year ASCAP collects monies from orchestras, bars, radio stations, karaoke clubs, even sports stadiums—nearly every place and space where music is played. These funds are distributed based on reported performances. If you don’t report this performance, that’s one or two more pennies that will go to Justin Bieber.
So please, take a few minutes, visit our Submit Concert Programs page and help us support creativity in percussion.

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