The extended drum kit
: A study of techniques and approaches in free improvisational contexts and their influence on contemporary compositions

  • James Hedgecock

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


I had my first experiences of free improvisation early in my undergraduate studies at the University of Huddersfield. Improvisation classes led by Philip Thomas and Simon H Fell in my first year introduced me to the concept of improvisation without any kind of stylistic conventions, sparking my interest in and enthusiasm for free improvisation. Following this, I then attended the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival for the first time in 2014, experiencing free improvisation for the first time in a live setting at a performance by vocalist Phil Minton and double bassist Simon H Fell.

It was at the 2015 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival that I first saw Mark Sanders perform with Ensemble Anomaly, in a concert featuring Paul Rutherford’s Quasi-Mode III (2015) and Derek Bailey’s No 22 [Ping] (2015). This was the first time I had encountered the drum kit as a multiple percussion instrument in an improvisational context, and Sanders’ captivating performance was an early inspiration for me to further investigate how the drum kit is used in contexts of free improvisation and within contemporary compositions. At the Electric Spring Festival the following year, I had the chance to hear an improvised set by the Bark! trio (2016), which included Phillip Marks on drums. Marks’s contrasting approach to drum kit improvisation within the ensemble inspired me to further explore the individual approaches and styles of a range of improvising drummers and percussionists, and I became eager to develop my own skills in free improvisation further. I eventually had the opportunity to speak to Mark Sanders for the first time in 2017 after his performance with saxophonist Julie Kjær (2017), and this performance and initial conversation were among the first main inspirations for me to research improvisational and compositional practices relating to the extended drum kit further......
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStewart Worthy (Co-Supervisor) & Julian Thomas (Co-Supervisor)

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