Contemporary Marimba: Trends in Composition

James Peter Millican, North Dakota State University

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Abstract It is important for music educators and composers to know the common techniques used to compose for marimba in order to write music for the instrument. In this article I will analyze contemporary marimba literature to support the common compositional techniques used for the instrument. I will also discuss progressive ideas of contemporary composition for the instrument, marimba technique, and electronic enhancement.

Introduction Composers have been writing for the marimba for over sixty years. Percussionists are given a wide range of pieces to perform, but there remain staples in marimba literature that will never be forgotten and will continue to be played again and again. There is a wide range of ideas, themes, and colors that are presented in new pieces, but the most popular pieces contain similar compositional traits. Every composer wants to create something new and inventive, but the approach to form, tonality, and skill level all derive from basic compositional techniques.

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