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Marimba Pop
for solo marimba
(2012)

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As the title might suggest, this is essentially light music. My plan was to compose a set of short and easy marimba solos that players could use as warm-ups, or even as teaching material. For this reason, and unlike most of my music, they are essentially diatonic. Each piece begins with a simple idea, then develops it in a rather traditional way. In the working out of these ideas, however, some slightly more difficult rhythms and marimba techniques began developing. Rather than limit my musical possibilities, I decided to allow this complexity into the pieces. The result is that they are still light and accessible, but a little more difficult to play than I had originally planned.

I: Moss on the Marimba
This piece is meant to be a warm, slow and melodic song. My intention was that it might sound as if somebody had arranged a song for marimba. The harmonies are not entirely traditional, but the overall effect is still quite lyrical and pleasant.

II: Bat Flight
The rhythmic inspiration for this piece came from the likes of 1970s progressive rock and certain more recent “indie” music. However, the light effect here is nothing like either of those style. The driving force is an ostinato whose length keeps getting changed. A tango-like rhythm then gets placed in different relationships against that ostinato, resulting in constantly shifting syncopations.

III: 33 (for Sansan)
This piece is a bit different from the others. It was originally a meditative piano solo composed in memory of my late wife, Sansan Chien. Kevin Romanski, who actually suggested I compose this set of pieces, heard my performance of that piano solo and asked if I could incorporate into the set. This is my attempt at doing that. Though the effect is quite different from the original piano version, it seems to function well on its own terms. I also hope it still serves as a worthy tribute to Sansan. Because her name sounds like “3-3” in Mandarin Chinese, this piece is filled with musical relationships involving 3 and 33 as well as various multiples of those numbers.

IV: All Aflutter
Similarly to “Bat Flight”, this piece is essentially about rhythm. Here, however, a simple two-note gesture is developed into a dialogue between the player’s two hands, with occasional longer strings of notes added for contrast. Changing meters give the music a sense of excitement and unpredictability.

Duration Ca. 12 - 13 minutes.

A live performance of part of Marimba Pop can be heard on YouTube:
I: Moss on the Marimba
III: 33 (for Sansan)
IV: All Aflutter