Kopeyia for percussion ensemble


"Kopeyia is a joyous din of spicy rhythm[;] … [i]t takes a certain amount of skill to write something for a formal ensemble that comes out sounding informal, and this is what Beck has achieved.”

- All Music Guide

Kopeyia  (pronounced ‘ko-pay-YEE-ya’) was commissioned by Randy Hoepker, director of the Southeast Polk High School Percussion Ensemble in Des Moines, Iowa.  Composed in October-December of 1995, the work is based, in part, on field recordings of traditional Ewé drumming which I made in the summer of 1995 while working in Ghana on a grant from the Kopeyia Ghana School Fund.

This work (named after the village in which I was teaching and studying) is not merely a transcription of those recordings. Rather, one piece (Ga-hú) provided certain rhythmic and structural relationships which I then recast and developed. Most of these traditional ideas are to be found in the unpitched instruments which provide the underlying “carpet” for the entire work (cowbell, shaker, conga, two snare drums, suspended cymbal and bass drum).

Drumming in Kopeyia, Ghana, summer of 1995

The harmonic language found in the pitched instruments (two marimbas, vibraphone, timpani and chimes), however, is wholly my own and bears no relationship to West African melodic material.

Kopeyia is scored for 11 players; the music may be purchased below or is available on a rental basis from:

The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music
The Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1116
tel (215) 686-5313


percussion ensemble
Date completed:
ca. 5:00


Fleisher Collection (rental agent) [search catalog for "Jeremy Beck"]

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