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stewboy

Three Sketches for Two Marimbas

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A short marimba duet I wrote a couple years ago. Recording is me (on marimba 2) and a friend, in a concert. The piece just started by me wanting to write a marimba duet, and I started each movement just by thinking about something I could do on marimba. Each movement/'sketch' ended up kind of short, and I knew I could probably extend any of them, but I only wanted a 5-6 minute piece for this particular concert.

The first movement was very much inspired by the music of Nigel Westlake, which I had played some of in a percussion ensemble (See his 'Omphalo Centric Lecture' or 'Malachite Glass'). The second was inspired by Bach two-part inventions and trio sonatas that we also played in the ensemble. The third movement as far as I know is all me. It has probably one of my favourite musical ideas I've come up with. I had originally intended it to be slightly faster but my friend wasn't able to play it up to the speed I wanted, but I think it works okay as it is.

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Rhythmic canonic interplay is really well done in the first one. I liked all of these very much. First reminded me of Reich, even though I know it doesn't really fit the minimalistic guidelines he uses. I love the arpeggiated chords in Sketch No. 3.
I thought the style shift in Sketch No. 2 was a little bit out of the blue. I likened it to being a Largo movement, instead of a scherzo, in the beginning.
Quick thing; when you switch chords with either a sustained chord or arpeggiated set underneath it, I'd make sure the passing tones (leaps or steps) stay within triadic or simple extended harmonic bounds. Sometimes there was a bit of awkwardness like in m. 69.
Very good work!

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The biggest thing I see is that marimba 2 is kept in a supporting role the whole time in the outer movements. It would make the piece more attractive to other players if the roles were divided a little more evenly.

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Really original work. I had never heard any pure marimba pieces. I enjoyed it and the performance. Congratulations.

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Nice performances, but the best thing these works have going for them is the harmonic language, the shifting modes and tonalities. You always keep it interesting with the pedals vs. the excursions. The first two are as you describe. But the third sounds so much like Satie's Danses de travers, No. 2., mostly the left hand,  it seems certain you must have heard it before. In any case the similarity is uncanny. It doesn't bother me if people borrow or steal from other composers, I'm just wondering if you have heard it.

@1:50 : https://youtu.be/9x6nuiNN3JI

 

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@Ken320: I actually genuinely had never heard that before, but I do hear the resemblence! I often find myself having a lot of sympathy for Erik Satie's works and his attitudes towards music in general, although I haven't heard a great deal of them.

 

@Adrian: I didn't mind too much because the third movement is actually fairly involved for marimba 2 - in general I deliberately made marimba 2 the harder part because I knew I was a better player than my friend. But if I were to extend this work (maybe add more little movements!) then I would definitely swap the roles a little.

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2 hours ago, stewboy said:

I didn't mind too much because the third movement is actually fairly involved for marimba 2 - in general I deliberately made marimba 2 the harder part because I knew I was a better player than my friend. But if I were to extend this work (maybe add more little movements!) then I would definitely swap the roles a little.

Things like this happen pretty frequently. We write for the people we know and end up with an imbalance of some sort in the piece. Considering your material, I don't think it should be much of an effort to fix.

Also, I realized that I forgot to say this in my first reply... I really do like the piece!

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