I should also admit, by the way, that this is a good excuse not to face a certain type of repertoire that is technically out of my league, according to the rule – not a complete airy-fairy concept to my mind – that : “too difficult to play = not pleasant to listen to”.
All in all, you might have also wondered from time to time: is it possible that marimba is such a beautiful (under many points of view) and yet unknown instrument to the majority of people?
Sorry to say, but I think part of the problem stems from the solo repertoire available for marimba. Let’s say the truth: marimba players wrote most of the solo pieces for marimba. Great finding…. and thanks God there’s at least someone who does it!
BUT… but not all the marimba players are good composers. As well as not all of those who write about marimba composers are good marimba players. See me.
Let’s also say that these solo pieces for marimba are not as simple to find. Till some time ago, the only alternative to order a CD from Amazon was YouTube (lucky those who could find CDs for solo marimba in a record store). By the way, Youtube is still one of my main sources of inspiration when I want to find new compositions.
Luckily, something has meanwhile changed and in spite of all the existing audiophiles (which is a category I feel I belong to, at least under certain points of view) there’s now an exceptional service, such as Spotify, which is synonym of all-the-world music – or almost – available on your smartphone. Of course, you can find also music for all percussion lovers, marimba lovers included.
Well, let’s then use this great app for an experiment I’d like you to do now with me:
- connect to Spotify; you don’t need a paid subscription, you can easily make a free account, as we need random choices;
- search for pieces for marimba;
- open a random album that you might like, possibly not traditional music from Guatemala etc, nor arrangements, as we’re interested in original pieces for marimba;
Now, let’s take 5 minutes to think: how many of the pieces you’ve heard, you really like? And by answering to this question, I ask you one last challenge: try and separate the “technical” interest you have as an insider from the purely aesthetic – musical interest. I say that because, as a marimba player, when I listen to pieces played on my instrument, I might be more interested in the performance, rather than on the musical side of the piece.
I stress on it because I’d like this to be clear: not being able to find pieces for marimba I like to listen to, it’s just MY problem. Also, everyone has different tastes, we all know that.
I’m sure that by doing this experiment you’ve certainly spotted some pieces that you find great and if I don’t like them, well… it’s indeed just my problem. I’m also sure, and I can certainly admit it, that there’s plenty of pieces out there that I’d like to hear but I simply don’t know them. Sorry, I’m just an ignorant person.
MY OWN LIMITS / MY OWN PREFERENCES
Anyway, I talk on and on, but I haven’t told you about the “difficult tastes” I have.
Then I’ll try and explain briefly to you which are the features I look for when I listen to an original piece for marimba. Do you know the movie “Amélie”? Here we go, I’ll do it like in the movie introduction (I’m such a fool…).
Therefore, Paolo Parolini likes:
- Rhythm: call me percussionist… but I rarely have fun if I don’t move my foot on the ground. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. Come on… Is marimba a percussion instrument or is it not? It is. Then don’t make me fall asleep, please. Anyway, without a rhythm, give me at least…
- a nice melody: call me Italian, dinosaur, conservative, boring, old fashion etc etc… but what can I do if I feel touched every time I hear an Aria from Puccini or the Intermezzo from the Cavalleria Rusticana? I belong to that old culture of the so-called “bel canto”, with all its virtues and limits. Therefore, I admit it, this is a limit I have: I swear I try to listen and accept atonal or dodecaphonic pieces, over and over, but I can’t make it. Therefore, I gave up. And when they ask me to play that kind of music, I want to be well paid. That’s it.
- a short duration: have you ever experienced getting out from a solo recital for guitar or piano and willing to listen to any other kind of music as soon as you can, possibly having more than one instrument? It happens to me. Marimba – nice, but… if the piece is over 5-6 minutes long, it will hardly keep my attention focused, even though the piece has a pressing rhythm and a nice melody that you can whistle on. And always to be hard on myself… My concentration skills are those of a 6 year old boy. This is fact.
SMALL LIST OF PIECES PAOLO LIKES
Here are examples of songs for solo marimba I’d happily listen to even 20 times a day. If you want you can listen to this playlist on Spotify clicking here or on the widget below. You’ll have to activate a free account, but I suggest you to do it because… it’s free!
There was a time when I believed that all music, only because someone had spent time in writing it, deserved listening and concentration. And I used to challenge myself in this direction. But at some point of my life, I’ve just stopped doing that.
It roughly happened as soon as I completed the first cycle of study at the Conservatory. In that moment, I started considering the pieces I was playing not anymore from my point of view as a player but also from my point of view as a listener. Did I really like what I was playing?
I respect and I thank marimba composers and I feel ashamed for criticizing without being able to write down any notes on staff paper. I’m an incompetent.
And when I’ll find once time to write some music, I’ll possibly be the only one who’ll like it. But it doesn’t matter.
“Life’s too short to drink bad wine”. I read this sentence somewhere and it made me think. Well, life is also too short to hear bad music, even if the category of good/bad doesn’t really work in music.
So: listen to what you like and don’t waste your time with music that you consider unpleasant. Marimba is a great instrument, under all points of view. Enjoy it as a listener, before even thinking of using 4 mallets to play it.
Question: given my preferences (and limitations) related to what I like of solo pieces for marimba, would you have any suggestion to give me? It might be useful also to those who have similar preferences (and limits) I have. Thanks and ….leave a comment.