Sunday morning music


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.

You’ll find more of The Wave Quartet’s music at their Web site and on their YouTube channel.



  1. Good recommendation!

    Their performance of the Carmen Suite arranged for percussion and marimbas is very good. As with Ye Glass Harmonica, a little goes a long way. A lot more dynamic range with the marimbas so that helps with the listening mileage.

    Lots of great vibraphone recordings out there, but I'll go with the easy one: Jazz at the Pawnshop, Volume 3: Good Vibes at the Pawnshop gives most bang for the buck.

  2. Bach was composing within the context of the limitations of musical instruments at the time. Just imagine what directions his music would have taken with the capabilities of modern instruments of music.

    That was beautifully played, thanks!

  3. As mentioned, a little goes a long way. Not to diminish the skills involved at all, but the instrument is a nice complement to others, not the main attraction.

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