The marimba is a fascinating instrument, similar to the xylophone but with a deeper, richer sound. It’s come a long way from its primitive tribal origins. It was developed in Africa, being found in many sub-Saharan tribes and cultures in one form or another. From there, African slaves brought it to South America, where it was further developed into new forms; and from there, it “migrated” to the USA, where it was commercialized and standardized for mass production as an orchestral and band instrument. However, it’s still played throughout Africa in its primitive form: I grew up knowing its music.
There’s so much marimba music available that I can’t possibly do justice to it in a brief blog article. I’ll try to put up more of it in a few future posts. This morning, I’d like to highlight The Wave Quartet, which specializes in the marimba and plays it both solo and with orchestra. Let’s begin with the quartet’s rendition of “Tamacun”, a well-known tune by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Here they are with “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla, a slower, more meditative piece.
Finally, here’s Christoph Sietzen, a member of the quartet, playing Bach’s Gigue in E minor, the sixth movement of the composer’s Lute Suite in the same key, BWV 996.
Bach would not have known the marimba at all, but I daresay he’d have approved of the transcription of his work for it.