The McCormick Percussion Ensemble ~ Marimba Concerti with Percussion Orchestra

a closer listen

The marimba, an African-origins instrument typical of Central America (it’s the ‘national instrument’ of Guatemala) was introduced to the classical world by European modernists in the first half of the 20th century as a function of a brand of shocking primitivism very similar to the one that introduced jazz to the same area. Like most introductions of the kind, it was picked up later in the century by composers who stripped its presence of primitivism and valued it instead solely as a different percussive source of sound (think, for example, of Pierre Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître of 1955). Minimalists, in particular, have had a soft spot for it, perhaps because it produces the sensation of listening to light, sweet tones, to sounds that do not impose over others and have a very short duration. It is, in other words, a great alternative to the piano inasmuch as it…

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