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Skylights (Download)

for solo marimba with percussion trio
Level: Medium
Duration: 6:45
Personnel: 4 players
State Lists: Florida
Release Date: 2023
Product ID : TSPCE23-020DL
Price: $40.00
Item #: TSPCE23-020DL

Formats Available:


Description

Skylights by Robert Clayson is an uplifting and light marimba solo with percussion accompaniment. The piece aims to fill a gap in percussion repertoire by tailoring the skillset for intermediate performers. Clayson notes that there is a wide selection of marimba solos with percussion accompaniment for advanced performers but far fewer for intermediate performers.

Skylights was inspired by looking up at a clear sky on a pitch-black night and seeing all of the stars across the night sky. The three players accompanying the soloist are all playing metallic percussion instruments, signifying the twinkle and shimmer of the stars overhead. The soloist's written material consists of undulating figures that give a sense of warmth and contentment. Skylights is a perfect first piece for a soloist to gain experience playing with an ensemble.

This piece requires a 5-octave marimba.

Use of this product is governed by the license terms outlined here.

Instrumentation

Marimba — 5-octave

Crotales (low-octave)

Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

3 Suspended Cymbals (high-low)

Reviews

This new work helps fill a void in the repertoire for accompanied intermediate marimba solo. Robert Clayson correctly asserts that we have plenty of such compositions for the advanced marimbist, but there is a deficiency of pieces that can feature intermediate players with great potential without overwhelming them. Clayson has written a likable and approachable piece to fulfill this need.

The piece begins with a light introduction from the accompanying trio of metallic instruments: a simple melody in the glockenspiel with harmonies supported by the crotales and vibes. The solo marimba then enters with the first of three significant sections of the piece. The first is in 5/8, which contrasts the introduction that was in common time, and utilizes the same trio of instruments, adding melodic and harmonic density. The second section is in 12/8, and the accompaniment plays rhythmic counterpoint on cymbals under the soloist. The final section is a slight alteration of the 5/8 material, followed by a short cadenza. The piece then ends with an almost verbatim retelling of the trio’s introduction and a final ascending flourish from the soloist, concluding on a half-cadence.

The composer does several things to make the marimba part interesting to play, yet remaining approachable for a young performer. First, each hand is either holding a perfect fourth or fifth through much of the piece. There are octaves during climactic moments, but the hands hold comfortable intervals most of the time. It is also permutation heavy, making the piece look and sound more complex than it really is. There are occasional alternating permutations in the 12/8 section, but the solo is mostly constructed of double and triple laterals. Even the material in the cadenza is built on these repeated permutations, but with the allowance of rubato and the use of space between each individual gesture. The laid-back tempi make these techniques doable even for someone new to these concepts.

This is a beautiful piece of keyboard music. The combination of twinkling metals and the sonorities from the marimba permutations make it pleasing to the ear and satisfying to play. It works great as a marimba feature for an intermediate player, as the composer intends, and it is a useful exercise for triple-laterals, since the modest tempo makes this technique easier to accomplish. “Skylights” is a great piece and will likely be heard in high-schools and colleges everywhere soon.

—Kyle Cherwinski
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 6, December 2023

Description

Skylights by Robert Clayson is an uplifting and light marimba solo with percussion accompaniment. The piece aims to fill a gap in percussion repertoire by tailoring the skillset for intermediate performers. Clayson notes that there is a wide selection of marimba solos with percussion accompaniment for advanced performers but far fewer for intermediate performers.

Skylights was inspired by looking up at a clear sky on a pitch-black night and seeing all of the stars across the night sky. The three players accompanying the soloist are all playing metallic percussion instruments, signifying the twinkle and shimmer of the stars overhead. The soloist's written material consists of undulating figures that give a sense of warmth and contentment. Skylights is a perfect first piece for a soloist to gain experience playing with an ensemble.

This piece requires a 5-octave marimba.

Use of this product is governed by the license terms outlined here.

Instrumentation

Marimba — 5-octave

Crotales (low-octave)

Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

3 Suspended Cymbals (high-low)

Reviews

This new work helps fill a void in the repertoire for accompanied intermediate marimba solo. Robert Clayson correctly asserts that we have plenty of such compositions for the advanced marimbist, but there is a deficiency of pieces that can feature intermediate players with great potential without overwhelming them. Clayson has written a likable and approachable piece to fulfill this need.

The piece begins with a light introduction from the accompanying trio of metallic instruments: a simple melody in the glockenspiel with harmonies supported by the crotales and vibes. The solo marimba then enters with the first of three significant sections of the piece. The first is in 5/8, which contrasts the introduction that was in common time, and utilizes the same trio of instruments, adding melodic and harmonic density. The second section is in 12/8, and the accompaniment plays rhythmic counterpoint on cymbals under the soloist. The final section is a slight alteration of the 5/8 material, followed by a short cadenza. The piece then ends with an almost verbatim retelling of the trio’s introduction and a final ascending flourish from the soloist, concluding on a half-cadence.

The composer does several things to make the marimba part interesting to play, yet remaining approachable for a young performer. First, each hand is either holding a perfect fourth or fifth through much of the piece. There are octaves during climactic moments, but the hands hold comfortable intervals most of the time. It is also permutation heavy, making the piece look and sound more complex than it really is. There are occasional alternating permutations in the 12/8 section, but the solo is mostly constructed of double and triple laterals. Even the material in the cadenza is built on these repeated permutations, but with the allowance of rubato and the use of space between each individual gesture. The laid-back tempi make these techniques doable even for someone new to these concepts.

This is a beautiful piece of keyboard music. The combination of twinkling metals and the sonorities from the marimba permutations make it pleasing to the ear and satisfying to play. It works great as a marimba feature for an intermediate player, as the composer intends, and it is a useful exercise for triple-laterals, since the modest tempo makes this technique easier to accomplish. “Skylights” is a great piece and will likely be heard in high-schools and colleges everywhere soon.

—Kyle Cherwinski
Percussive Notes
Vol. 61, No. 6, December 2023


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