Marimba Solo was from my Berklee Online Winter Semester for Week 3 in Compositional Voice Development in Film Scoring. The assignment was to compose a short piece “influenced by some aspect of your personal experience… creative preferences of your past clients, ideologies promoted to you at school, characteristics of music that you admire, or other life experiences.”
I chose to compose a piece that was influenced by my time at the University of Rhode Island. One of my main influences was playing solo marimba music , especially works by Mitchell Peters, and Rhythm Song by Paul Smadbeck (I was supposed to be learning the basics like sight reading, but I would borrow solos that the upperclassmen were learning, and try to learn as much of them as I could). I had also been interested in progressive rock since high school, so a lot of marimba music that I liked meshed well because of the mixed/changing meters (7|8 is my favorite).
I also started getting interested in World Music, especially percussion, and that was when I bought my first djembe. After hearing a performance of the Ethos Percussion Ensemble playing Rhythm Song, and incorporating djembe as well as other drums and percussion, I was re-inspired by that piece for new reasons. Soon after, the URI Percussion Ensemble ended up doing a similar arrangement/performance, and I played djembe.
I was also excited to have the opportunity to write for strings since my high school didn’t have a string program, and I only had a chance to play in an honors orchestra in my senior year (I was instantly hooked). I love how percussive strings can be, and I love the contrast of long lush string lines over rhythmically active percussion.
That was also when I first became interested in minimalism, partly because it was so closely related to drumming and some of the marimba music I was learning. I love the idea of taking a small germ of an idea and seeing how much you can get out of it.