Improving the practice and performance of contemporary music

Concert Etudes for Marimba

"Project supported by a 2016 BBVA Foundation Grant for Researchers and Cultural Creators".

Vol 1: Leaps and Extensions

This idea for this book dates back to 2005 and its preparation has taken around a decade.

The decision to publish this collection of etudes was prompted by the desire to introduce a specific repertoire into my concerts that would serve as both technical training and an exploration of the instrument, thereby leading to a deeper knowledge of percussion. And, on the other hand, it constitutes a compilation of works that present new technical and aesthetic challenges, used in my work as a teacher and in this way diversifying the repertoire.

However, the merit of this book belongs with the composers who created the music. I got to know all of them through the groups that have marked my musical career (the Ictus Ensemble from Brussels, the Drumming - Grupo de Percussão from Porto, the Duo Contemporain from Rotterdam), and through my solo concerts and as a soloist in different orchestras and ensembles. Thanks to these composers and their music I discovered a wide variety of aesthetic proposals as well as some fascinating new approaches to music. This led to intense cooperation and a bond of friendship with all of them.

If I have had this excellent opportunity it is thanks to the privilege of being so close to the core of musical creation, and I am pleased to share it with the public and, above all, with the new and future generations of percussionists. My teaching experience has shown me that this diversity and innovation does not always reach the academic institutions and I felt it important to contribute in some way.

This first volume of the collection of pieces for the marimba aims to present this diversity through ten etudes as varied as their composers, which tackle different technical aspects as well as ideas fruit of my own experience, which I explained to the composers during our work together. The basic themes of this volume are the leaps and extensions, in view of the fact that these are the germ of other technical aspects that are more specific to the instrument and a constant in all the pieces.

Each piece is introduced by some observations made by its composer as well as my own comments, in order to help to provide an aesthetic and technical understanding of the etudes. At the same time, following detailed study and with the help of Vincent cCers and Tom De Cock from the “Living scores Learn” platform, we have prepared a metronomic clicktrack for each work, in addition to more extensive information that facilitates a deeper knowledge of the works and faster learning. A forum has also been set up so that those interested in these etudes can exchange opinions and ideas.

This publication is accompanied by a cd with recordings that I made at the Escola Superior de Musica e Artes do Espectáculo-ESMAE in Porto from 2013 to 2015, with the support of the Serviços de Produção e Tecnologias da Música with Jorge Jacinto as recording and mixing engineer. Furthermore, and as a beneficiary of the 2016 BBVA Foundation Grants to Researchers, Innovators and Cultural Creators, the book will be presented at various international institutions devoted to percussion and composition. I trust this collection will help performers to better get to know and master the marimba, enabling them to go deeper into the potential of the instrument and the diversity of contemporary music; and I hope that the works will be to their liking and end up becoming part of their concert repertoire.

Miquel Bernat