Small Box

Small Box for marimba quartet
Publisher: C. Alan Publications (2008)
Composed: 2008
Duration: 3’15”
Difficulty: Medium-Difficult
Instrumentation (4 players): 4.3-octave marimba, 5.0-octave marimba
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J.S. Bach is quite possibly the greatest composer in the history of music. His chorales are studied by firstyear music majors as a model for four-part writing. His works have been frequently transcribed and performed by percussionists looking to extend the history of our literature. Conversely, minimalism only recently became formalized in the mid-1900s but immediately had a willing foothold in the field of percussion. Its rhythmically driven melodic and harmonic fragments can be sustained without break on percussion instruments, and the syncopated figures and complex time signatures are ideal for study and performance by percussionists. Small Box, quite simply, is a combination of these two historically and musically significant elements into a short, but challenging marimba quartet. Every harmonic and melodic element was derived from the chorale Jesu, wahres Brot des Lebens from Bach’s BWV 180 – Schmuke dich, o liebe Seele, including the initial statement of the chorale in its original form. This work is rhythmically demanding, melodically and harmonically intriguing, and extremely interesting and enjoyable for any audience. The quartet is playable on one 4.3-octave marimba and one 5-octave marimba, with an alternate part included that facilitates performance on two 4.3-octave marimbas.


The challenges of this quartet (rhythmical, melodic, and harmonic) should appeal to advanced mallet players and audiences alike.John Baldwin
Printed by permission of the Percussive Arts Society, inc.