Rupert Kettle

(b. 1940, Grand Rapids, Michigan – d. 11 May 2005, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

American composer of mostly stage and chamber works that have been performed in Europe and North America; he was also active as a percussionist and writer.

Mr. Kettle had private lessons in composition with John Cage, Richard Cone, Henri Gibeau, Teiji Ito, and Ted Maters. He studied percussion privately with Donald Patterson, James Salmon and Walter Walski in Grand Rapids from 1950–58, then studied drum kit and Latin percussion privately with Henry Adler, mallet percussion privately with Doug Allen and timpani privately with Alfred Friese, all in New York, New York from 1958–63. He later received a DFA honoris causa from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids in 2000.

As a percussionist, he often performed his own works and jazz pieces, as well as music by John Cage, Joseph Celli, Philip Corner, Malcolm Goldstein, and Lou Harrison. He served as lead percussionist of the First Army Band on Governors Island in New York, New York from 1960–62.

He wrote numerous articles about percussion for the magazine Down Beat (1966–67), the journal Percussive Notes (1966–67, 1981–95) and the magazine Modern Drummer (1978–80), as well as the book Drum Set Reading Method (1968, Alfred Music; later self-published).

He was also active in other positions. He worked as an editor for the publishing company of Henry Adler in New York, New York from 1965–68. He served as project coordinator in music of the Race Street Gallery in Grand Rapids from 1980–87.

He taught percussion privately in New York, New York from 1965–68 and in Grand Rapids from 1968–2005. He taught percussion at Aquinas College from 1972–2005, where he founded the Aquinas College Percussion Group in 1979 and served as its director from 1979–2005.

His primary publishers are HoneyRock Publishing and Marimba Productions Inc. and his primary distributor is Frog Peak Music.



SELECT LIST OF WORKS (dates unavailable)


Andalusia Field, 1982 (sound set, choreography by Angelina Peggy Hunt Richter), dance troupe, any large number of players (using drumsticks on a wooden floor)

Blues for Baude Cordier (choreography by Angelina Peggy Hunt Richter), 5 female dancers, any 5 players, drone

BLUES FOR YVONNE RAINER, female dancer, violin/viola, double bass, 1–3 pianos, percussion/2 percussion, fixed media (2 tracks) (three of its six sections may be performed separately as concert works: Three Satie Leaves; Walk around BlueS; ' make a dull, continued, monotonous sound...')

Gongsong S And Dancer (texts from various sources, compiled by the composer), female dancer, female voice (both + any large number of gongs)

in stone circle silence, female dancer, any large number of players

Mountains Do (choreography by Melinda McAfee), dance troupe, dulcimer, live electronics

' overwhelmingly intricate balance...', 2 dancers (version of work for 2 percussion)

Roses (choreography by Melinda McAfee, the composer), 5 dancers, any 5 players, fixed media (2 tracks)

32'35.634 for a Dancer (choreography by the composer), female dancer

Woman/Flute, female dancer (version of work for flute)

WVU II (choreography by Melinda McAfee), female dancer, percussion


Diamonds63 Blues for John Cage, jazz band


Any Room Music, any large number of players

Aytayze, oboe

Blues for Jimmy Vincent, drum kit

Blues for Lou Harrison, 6 percussion

Blues for Max Roach, drum kit, 3 percussion

Blues for Max, Too, drum kit, 3 percussion

A Blues for McEtu, talking drum (drum from western Africa), shekere (gourd from western Africa), cowbell (all + foot taps)

Catlett, Roach, _____ Variations, drum kit, fixed media (2 tracks)

Dining Room Music, 4 percussion

Displacement, any number of rattles (+ very large bass drum) (any large number of players)

Drum Set Set, drum kit (its six sections may be performed separately: Eleven Cubed; Chimbulls; Films; Shelly; Messrs. HiHats; Baby Blues)

E-flat Minor Seventh Chord (Corner Paraphrase #1), any number of percussion

The First Nowell, hammered dulcimer, marimba

For Gong: Conclusions, any number of dancers ad libitum, 1 or more percussion

45,949,729,863,572,101 Corps-Style Snare Drum Solos (based on Musikalisches Würfelspiel, K 516f by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), snare drum

4BPYBV, 2 percussion

Four Percussion Solos

Four Solos for Snare Drum

Gamalone, vibraphone/marimba

God Rest Ye Merry, Everyone, 6/7 percussion

Good Kind Wenceslas Looked out (on the beats uneven), 6/7 percussion

Hollers, 4 percussion

Imaginary Variations No. 1, 6 percussion

Imaginary Variations No. 2, 5 percussion

Imaginary Variations No. 3, 5 percussion

Instead of a Letter to Malcolm, any large number of snare drums

Letters from Satie, any 9/18 players

Lo How a Rose, 6/7 percussion

Le Marche ronde, any large number of walking players

Marshes, drum kit

Metal Gamut, any large number of metal objects (4 players)

Music for English Handbells, handbells (any number of players)

Nine Solos for Drum Set, drum kit

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, 6/7 percussion

' overwhelmingly intricate balance...', 2 percussion (also version for 2 dancers)

Partchment, 1–23 percussion

Percussion Mix, any number of percussion

Petite Suite, 2 snare drums

Pour Erik Satie et l'Enfants, vibraphone

Randy Dances (for Randy Marsh), drum kit, 4 percussion

Rattles, any large number of rattles (1 player)

Riffs & Pivots, drum kit

A Round, percussion

Rudimental Rascals, 2 snare drums

Schoenberg Pages, flute, viola

Second Petite Suite, 2 snare drums

6 for 2, 3 or 4 Percussionists (cubic parallelogram), 2/3/4 percussion

6 of 7 Mazes, 1–6 percussion

Stones, Bones & Skin, any number of tam-tams (1/2 players), 4 percussion

S'turnalia Stomp, 6/7 percussion

Suite.Bay.Bee, drum kit, 5 percussion

Take Us All Some Bows of Folly, 6/7 percussion

Three Afters for Four Kettledrums, timpani

Three Études for Snare Drum

Three Pieces/Percussionists, 3 percussion

Three Sambas, 3 percussion

3 Sambas, 2, 2 drum kits

Three Tambourines, percussion

' make a dull, continued, monotonous sound...', violin/viola (section of BLUES FOR YVONNE RAINER; may be performed separately as a concert work)

To Max: Dances: #1 (in 7), drum kit, any number of percussion

To Max: Dances: #2 (in 5), drum kit, any number of percussion

Too, Max Dances, timpani, drum kit

Tracks, 2 percussion

Traps, drum kit (2 players)

Tricks, 2 percussion

Trips, 2 percussion

Trois Lettres à Jean-Paul Curtay (sampler), percussion

20 for Marimba-ist (icosahedron), marimba

Walk around BlueS, percussion/2 percussion (section of BLUES FOR YVONNE RAINER; may be performed separately as a concert work)

Woman/Flute, flute (also version for female dancer)


Atlas Variations (text from syllables), 4 speakers, 4 percussion

!!!BOFFO YOKS!!! (texts from various jokes), speaker, any number of voices

Most Marvelous Songs about a String (text by the composer, after Anaïs Nin), female voice (+ flute, guitar)

To Do with the Work of Diana Shaffer (texts from various books on architecture), speaker, any number of voices, fixed media (2 tracks)

Vide (texts from various sources, compiled by the composer), voice, vihuela (plucked viol), vibraphone


Gymnopédies Variations, any large number of pianos

Three Satie Leaves, 1–3 pianos (section of BLUES FOR YVONNE RAINER; may be performed separately as a concert work)


45' for a Photographer

Four Lamp-posts AQAMC, 4 lampposts

Railings AQAMC (outside), railings

To/For/From Piet Mondrian, any number of percussion, slide projections (by Kurt Alfons Kaiser)

To the Barricades, 6-unit steel traffic-barricade

Two Automotive Pieces, any large number of cars (any large number of drivers)


...after a fashion (Gamelan II, 'Number Measure Increase Downwards' by Philip Corner), expanded drum kit

Three Movements for Percussion (Johanna Beyer), 6 percussion