The history of multi-percussion is a collection of social and musical influences beginning largely during the early Twentieth century. The Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1760s and ended approximately 1830. During this time, many innovations in machinery and enhancements of everyday life were born, including electricity, which was explored during the second revolution. Manufacturing processes of metals, such as iron and steel, allowed for the development of new modes of transportation, steam power allowed for quicker and more efficiently powered trains to move cross country, and the development of the automobile and the airplane made virtually every corner of the world accessible for the distribution of goods and people and their cultures.
The world was getting louder and artists were quick to embrace the opportunity to put their opinions out into the world via their art. These Futurists accepted noise as the new music of world, creating instruments such as the “exploder.”
The dissolution of tonality played a major role in the development of multi-percussion. The atonality of the Second Viennese School brought new compositional processes to percussion writers.
The Impressionists such as Debussy challenged the stability and requirement of traditional tonalities by using pentatonic, octatonic, and whole tone scales.
The rejection of tradition of Romanticism and Impressionism also helped to shape the landscape of percussion music, an area which was accepted as an experimental playground.
The consolidation of personnel, instruments, and implements within jazz is perhaps the single most important influence on multi-percussion development. The drum set is one of the newest of instruments to the standard percussion collection and continues to be reinvented.
Because percussion was a fertile ground for experimentation, all aspects were deemed “up for grabs.” Composers have since experimented with notational systems.
Many composers ask the performer to discover their own sound for a piece by simply indicating instrumentation as “wood, skin, metal.”
Electronics are increasingly important in the compositions of multi-percussion music provide a fresh sound and interest in multi-percussion.
The size of pieces have been taken to the extremes in the last few decades.
SÖ Percussion, Colin Currie, Amadinda Percussion Group, and Evelyn Glennie perform regularly on the most visible stages in the world, making the multi-percussion genre an elevated and vital aspect of percussion playing.