Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Lindsay Vickery

Second Supervisor

Mr Tim White


Elliott Carter’s Eight Pieces for Four Timpani have become integral works in the solo timpani repertoire. They continue to offer technical and musical challenges to both developing and professional players and have influenced the development of the solo timpani genre to date. These pieces contain metric and temporal modulation – musical processes which alter certain performance parameters concerning pulse and subdivision tempi.

This dissertation investigates Carter’s use of metric and temporal modulation in his Eight Pieces for Four Timpani and examines the effects click track application has on the performance of these works. A brief biography of Carter and his use of these techniques is included in this dissertation, as is a succinct history of the Eight Pieces for Four Timpani. The paper also contains an analysis of the five works that contain such modulations (Saeta (1950), Recitative (1950), Improvisation (1950), Canaries (1950) and March (1950)), referring to musical examples and discussing how the performer may navigate some of the more complex modulations. Furthermore, various recordings of Improvisation, including those of my own performances, have been analysed in order to support the need for click track for these works, as well as demonstrate the effects applying the tracks will have on the rhythmic accuracy of a performance.

My performance of Improvisation has been recorded and analysed three times in this paper – an initial performance (prior to any click track application), a performance with the click track and a final performance (post- click track), with the aim of discovering whether or not these click tracks do indeed influence rhythmic accuracy in each recording.

This dissertation not only endeavours to provide a thorough rhythmic analysis of Carter’s Eight Pieces for four Timpani and investigate the use of click tracks with these works, but also aims to create a resource that is able to be used by future students who wish to play this repertoire.

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