American Modern Ensemble and Robert Paterson – Six Mallet Marimba

Robert Paterson | American Modern Ensemble

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Although it is common to see percussionists holding four mallets, using six is still somewhat rare. Award-winning composer and percussionist Robert Paterson has spent his entire career developing this technique and writing pieces that utilize this technique. To date, he has written more works for this technique than anyone else in the world. This is the world's first all six mallet marimba album, and it pays tribute to his roots as a percussionist, and specifically, the marimba. With this collection of works, Paterson sets out to prove that this innovative, groundbreaking technique opens the door for creating new timbres and colors, richer harmonies, and a more varied sound palette on the marimba.

All of the works on this album feature the marimba and are performed by Paterson and members of the critically-acclaimed American Modern Ensemble. Works Include Komodo and Piranha for solo marimba, Stillness for oboe and marimba, Clarinatrix for bass clarinet and marimba, the three movement Duo for Flute and Marimba, the six mallet version of Tongue and Groove (there's also a four-mallet version) for alto saxophone and marimba, Braids for violin and marimba, Links & Chains for violin and marimba and Fantasia for tuba and marimba.

Track Descriptions

  1. Komodo for solo marimba: solo for five-octave marimba that shows off the low end of the marimba, inspired by Komodo dragons
  2. Piranha for solo marimba: sister piece to Komodo, five-octave solo that shows offer the upper end of the marimba
  3. Stillness for oboe and marimba (Sarah Schram, oboe): beautiful piece for oboe and five-octave marimba that features rolls on the marimba
  4. Clarinatrix for bass clarinet and marimba (Meighan Stoops, bass clarinet): slightly jazzy duo for bass clarinet and five-octave marimba and incorporates marimshots, slap tongue technique on the bass clarinet
  5. Duo for Flute and Marimba (Sato Moughalian, flute and alto flute): three-movement, fifteen-minute work for flute (doubling alto flute) and five-octave marimba. First movement uses six mallets, second uses four and third movements uses five.
  6. I. Allegro Misterioso
  7. II. Playfully Seductive
  8. III. Vivace
  9. Tongue and Groove for alto saxophone and marimba (Jeremy Justeson, alto saxophone): work for alto saxophone and five-octave marimba, there is also a four-mallet version of this work (featured on AMR Pimpin' album).
  10. Braids for violin and marimba (Victoria Paterson, violin): for 4 1/3 octave marimba, inspired by hair braiding styles (French braid, rolled braid, Herringbone, etc.)
  11. Links & Chains for violin and marimba (Robin Zeh, violin): sister piece for Braids, form and structure inspired by chain-like connections
  12. Fantasia for tuba and marimba (Dan Peck, tuba): Paterson's first duo for marimba and another instrument, for 4 1/3 octave marimba and tuba.

Total Time: 63:46

Robert Paterson has developed a six-mallet technique for the marimba, a rare feat. That being said, the interest of this CD – possibly the first ever to be entirely devoted to six-mallet marimba works – resides more in Paterson’s vivid compositions (they are all his) and his consumate playing, since very few listeners will even be able to identify the fact that there are six mallets in play instead of four. An enjoyable record, full of humour and playfulness. “Duo for Flute and Marimba” (with Sato Moughalian) and the surprising “Fantasia” for tuba (Dan Peck) and marimba stand out.
— monsieurdelire.com
...his music is quite a treat for the ears... “Six Mallet Marimba” deserves your full attention, not because of Robert Paterson’s prodigious technique but because his compositions engage the listener on many levels (melodic, rhythmic and emotional.) His interaction with the musicians on the duo works truly captures the ear and mind, so much so that one hears more each time he returns to the music.
— Step Tempest Blog