The development and application of the Square System of Drumset Coordination

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)


Music Studio and Jazz

First Committee Member

Stephen Rucker, Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Whitney Sidener, Committee Member


The Square System of Drumset Coordination is a coordination system developed by the author. The purpose, limitations, rationale, and specific terms are discussed in Chapter 1. A synopsis of the work of George Marsh, which also employs the square to explain drumset coordination, concludes the chapter.Basic vocabulary and subsequent concepts are presented in Chapter 2 with diagrams and analyses. Other topics include a listing of the sixteen possible strokes and an introduction of the Square System's process of analysis called the Column Method.In Chapter 3, groupings of single strokes, called shapes, are introduced. This is followed by a method of linking the shapes into extended groupings. The final development of Chapter 3 joins shapes to melodic rhythm.Musical applications of the Square System are presented in Chapter 4. The first section adds accentuation to the shapes introduced in Chapter 3. The second section applies Square System vocabulary to improvisational pedagogy by presenting examples of melodic note groupings and comparable shape combinations. Finally, excerpts from two drumset method books are analyzed with Square System vocabulary.In Chapter 5, a brief examination of the Square System in relation to drumset coordination practices of earlier jazz eras is presented. Two types of analysis accompany each era described. The first, called Square analysis, describes the limbs involved using Square System vocabulary. The second, labeled Dialogue analysis, analyzes the musical function of each limb of the performer. The evolution of drumset hardware, in particular the bass drum and hi-hat pedals, is also included in this discussion.



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