Flute & Marimba: An Extraordinary Correspondence

griffin.jpg

The flute and the marimba have a fairly short yet rich history. However, it wasn't until I was commissioned to write a piece for the combination a year ago that I started exploring it more in depth. Not having performed any flute/marimba duets, I was delighted to find some wonderful pieces for the combination (see the lists below). Additionally, more and more performance duos have been popping up in recent years, helping to expand the repertoire. I encourage you to check out the plethora of recordings from some of the pioneers in the genre by Googling some of the names of performers in the list below.

Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity when Rick and Jenn Elliott contacted me about a commission for flute and marimba. I had already written pieces for clarinet/marimba, oboe/vibraphone and alto saxophone/marimba.  Those reedy wind instruments blend extremely well with the mellow woodiness of the marimba. Honestly, you don't have to work that hard to make them sound good together. When preparing to write for flute and marimba, I listened carefully to the qualities of the different registers of both instruments and how I might play them off one another. I recall falling in love with the lower register of the flute (lower half of the treble clef staff) and finding ways to have that rich, breathy sound emerge out of the marimba playing in the same register. In fact, this is how the piece opens.

The title of the duet, An Extraordinary Correspondence, comes from the subtitle to the book "Griffin & Sabine" by Nick Bantock. This groundbreaking book appeals to our (taboo) voyeuristic desires to read the mail of others. The story follows two people who have never met that start writing to one another because Sabine shares Griffin's "sight." He's an artist and she can see what he draws and paints as it is happening. As their relationship unfolds, they quickly find that they are actually living in parallel worlds. I followed the arc of the story pretty closely, having the marimbist play the role of Griffin and the flutist play the role of Sabine. 

Listen

Rick and Jenn Elliott will perform the world premiere of "An Extraordinary Correspondence" on August 7, 2011 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hamilton, OH. The piece will be published C. Alan Publications and available to the rest of the world in June of 2012.

Resource Lists

Works for Flute & Marimba
1958: Tanner, Peter - Diversions for Flute & Marimba
1977: Wilder, Alec - Suite for Flute & Marimba
1984: Klatzow, Peter - Figures in a Landscape
1997: Farr, Gareth - Kembang Suling
1997: Tanabe, Tsuneya - Recollections of the Inland Sea
2001: Gillingham, David - Five Fantasies of Natural Origin
2002: Hasenpflug, Thom - 5 Mornings for Flute and Marimba

Works for Flute & Percussion
1958: Wilder, Alec - Suite for Flute & Bongos Nos. 1 & 2
1964: Harrison, Lou - Concerto #1
1966: Dahl, Ingolf - Duettino for Flute & Percussion
1974-80: Adams, John Luther - Songbirdsongs
1994: Parker, Philip - Beneath the Canopy

Flute & Percussion Performance Duos
Armstrong Duo (Eleanor Armstrong, flute & Dan Armstrong, percussion)
McCormick Duo (Kim McCormick, flute & Bob McCormick, percussion)
Tambous Duo (Holly Stackhouse, flute & Theodore Frazeur, percussion)
Verederos Duo (Jessica Johnson, flute & Payton MacDonald, percussion)
Marc Grauwels & Sarah Mouradoglou
Michael Haldeman & John Samuel Roper
Richard & Jennifer Elliott

Bibliography & discography of works for flute and percussion compiled by flutist Larry Krantz:
http://www.larrykrantz.com/fltperc.htm