By Carol Masters, Becketwood Member
The Wellington Room was more than usually resonant Sunday, January 29, as a marimba, steelpan sets, and other ethnic instruments showed their tonal richness and variety. Dr. Andrew R. Martin, Professor of Music at Inver Hills College, St. Paul, lectured and played for an enthusiastic Becketwood audience, extending his time to encourage Members to try out the instruments. From Bach to “new music” to a variety of ethnic rhythms, Martin demonstrated their range and beauty.
The marimba, which can be taken apart and transported in Martin’s van, is a lovely rosewood percussion instrument, consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with diverse types of mallets to produce musical tones. It was developed in Central America by African slaves.
Dr. Martin has traveled globally, lecturing on and researching the intersections between American and Caribbean music as well as popular and folk music. His recent research explores the global spread of steelpan and steelbands. Martin told us that the steelpan historically was made from 55-gallon industrial drums – originating in Trinidad and Tobago – when oil drums were left as a result of military/industrial incursions. Hammered and re-sculpted to produce the intricate convex tone-dents in a concave surface that form the tonal scale, the pan bottom has a peculiar scalloped appearance. The dents allow the musician to play not only rhythms but melody, the whole chromatic scale.
Thanks to the Program Committee and Dr. Randy Nelson for arranging this unique musical and learning experience.
Note: Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of The Brick House Days, by Iric Nathanson!