Music for Vibraphone & Electronica is an attempt to fuse together three different sounds and styles to which I am drawn: electronic drum and bass music, as pioneered and popularized by artists Square Pusher and Aphex Twin, the Indonesian music of Bali, and the eclectic world jazz of Pat Metheny. The piece is composed almost entirely in a Balinese melodic mode often found in the music of gamelan gong kebyar, the five-tone pelog selisir. This mode is then rotated harmonically through three opposite-yet-equal starting points of Bb, Gb, and D, each vying for supremacy. After an open improvisation and a transient period of non-related harmony, Bb emerges in a victorious arrival, and all prior themes are re-stated in a new light. This imbalance cannot last, however, and in the closing section the three starting points resign themselves back to equality in a stable cycle that seems to last indefinitely. The vibraphone part is of medium technical demands but high musical demands, and fills many roles within the composition, from legato melody lines, to background ostinato, to improvisatory passages.
Percussive Notes Review
Electronic loops are a favored way for educators to keep young percussionists interested during classes. The electronic track in this work serves a similar purpose. As a stand-alone piece, the vibraphone material may not appeal to a large audience. However, Matt Moore melds electronic music, world music harmony, and jazz elements to create a fun and distinct work for solo vibraphone. Inspired by drum’n’bass music, such as Aphex Twin, the electronic track provides a driving beat with harmonic and melodic material intertwined. Derived from a Balinese mode, the exotic tonality creates a unique atmosphere. The influence of jazz is apparent from the onset as the composer balances structured and improvised material.
The vibraphone part is only moderately difficult. There are a few moments of fast double lateral strokes at the intervals of thirds, fourths, and fifths. However, a majority of the thematic material simply uses single independent and double vertical strokes at comfortable intervals. The vibraphonist provides melodic and accompaniment functions throughout the work. Balancing the material, while also staying rhythmically aligned with the track, will likely challenge the performer.
The improvisational sections are appropriate for a wide range of experience levels. Moore provides a notated idea that inexperienced improvisers can play as written or even embellish. He also includes chord symbols for advanced performers. Public school percussion specialists take note: The popular nature of this work makes it a great selection to perform on recruiting trips!
Vol. 51, No. 4, July 2013
Solo Vibraphone w/ track | Grade 4 | 6'20"
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