This project is a collection of four arrangements from Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn for French horn and marimba, with accompanying commentary. French horn and marimba is a beautiful combination that suffers from a lack of repertoire. These arrangements, composed by Kyle Nelson, are a step toward remedying that problem, while exploring the wide range of musical styles for which this combination is suited. The four songs that have been transcribed here are Urlicht, Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen, Der Tamboursg’sell, and Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt. Together, they provide a sampling of the many poems Mahler put to music in the late 1800’s for voice and piano. The sampling ranges from the very well-known (such as those featured in Mahler’s symphonies, like Urlicht) to one of the few lighthearted arrangements (Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt’s scherzo trio style) found in Mahler’s two original collections of lieder. The final product is performable as a duet with a talented horn and marimba duo, but in some circumstances it may be beneficial to divide the marimba part by stem direction and play as a trio on horn and two marimbas. The marimba part is best suited for four mallets on a 5-octave marimba.
“The Mystery of Light” is the first movement of a yet to be completed larger work titled ...to melt into the sun for chamber choir and percussion quartet. The text of the work is an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet. This book tells the story of a prophet-like man, Almustafa, who, before embarking on the journey back to his native land, stops in the city of Orphalese, where the townspeople, having known him for many years, entreat him to share his wisdom before he departs. The seeress, Almitra, urges him, “speak to us and give us of your truth.” Almustafa proceeds to philosophize on a range of topics including love, laws, pain, friendship, children, time, beauty, and self-knowledge. Just before his farewell to the people of Orphalese, he speaks of death, saying that it is not something to be feared, but rather, embraced as a necessary and beautiful part of life.
This interconnectedness of the life and death process, of which Almustafa speaks, is the subject of “The Mystery of Light.” Almitra’s aforementioned request returns directly and indirectly throughout the movement as a reference to humanity’s undying desire to understand the great mysteries of our own mortal condition. The choir shifts throughout the movement between the three following perspectives: 1) that of people who live in fear, whose anxious whispers grow into shouts of horror as they are faced with the threat of death, 2) that of people who share Almitra’s inquisitiveness and are inspired with wonder by the secret of death and 3) that of the prophet, as he speaks words of comfort and wisdom to those who look, either in terror or wonder, upon the face of death. My hope with this music is to share the comforting words which Gibran has spoken through the character, Almustafa, so that, as they have done for me, these words may provide comfort to those who will stand trembling in the presence of life’s most inevitable consequence.
Torse III (1965) by Akira Miyoshi, Two Movements for Marimba (1965) by
Toshimistu Tanaka, and Time for Marimba (1968) by Minoru Miki have remained “tour de force” pieces in the marimba repertoire since their inception nearly fifty years ago, yet they continue to present significant performance and interpretative issues to each new generation of marimbists. This document will serve as both a performance guide for advanced marimba performers, as well as provide insight into the aesthetic qualities that contribute to their lasting artistic significance.
Each piece will receive a designated chapter discussing the historical context, technical challenges, and general performance practices. The author will also present a designated chapter discussing the three over-arching aesthetic characteristics found in all three pieces: the use of the entire range of the instrument, the use of extreme contrasting dynamics and timbre, and the use of a common harmonic language.
Torse III, Two Movements, and Time were famously performed by Keiko Abe on her first classical marimba recital in 1968. This document will also help bring to light the enormous impact this recital had on the history of the marimba, as marimbists throughout the world today are forever indebted to Abe’s efforts.
This document offers composers a contextual reference and pragmatic overview
of the modern marimba. This guide is not designed as an orchestration text, suggesting ways to write for the instrument, rather, it illustrates through examination of well-known solo and chamber works how selected composers have effectively written for the instrument.
A guide for basic notation and examples of successful notation are included, as well as the basics of performer techniques. Samples of problematic, sometimes impossible passages are included to show the instruments and its performers' current limitations. The construction of the marimba and how it is tuned, a guide to mallets, and all of the current established extended techniques is also included. The majority of the information comes from the citation of established research on the marimba, composers and performers, and the author’s own experiences.
The intention of this document is two fold: to give composers who are unfamiliar with marimba a resource to begin composing for the instrument effectively, and for those composers who are familiar with the marimba it is designed to spark their creativity in an efficient and effective manner. The ultimate goal of this document is to create compositional momentum for marimba solo and chamber works and grow the repertoire, which is still in its infancy.
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach has long been used for keyboard percussion pedagogy and performance. The cello suites (BWV 1007-1012), in particular, are popular choices for marimbists. As with many transcriptions for marimba, performers are challenged to transfer Bach's musical genius onto an instrument whose timbre, range, mode of execution and acoustic properties are distinctly different from the original. To date, there is no concise and relevant edition of the suites for study and performance at the marimba. The edition contained herein solves most, if not all, of the problems normally confronted by marimbists. In addition to synthesizing the most salient information from early manuscript sources and modern performances, this edition corrects the harmonic and voiceleading problems that are caused by the polyphonic limitations of the cello. This edition also eliminates performance notations found in most cello editions which are of little use to a marimbist.