Today I have completed and published a new collection of xylophone solos, over 31 years since the first one, with a CD of accompaniments rather than a piano book. My original compilation – Ten Xylophone Solos was an edited collection of solos that I had performed in the Grand Hall at the Spa in Scarborough during my summer seasons as percussionist with Max Jaffa. End of the pier music in the tradition of march composer Kenneth Alford (Sparks, The Two Imps) or percussionist Jack Simpson (On The Track, On Another Track, Track Three…) and not in the tradition of Thomas Pitfield (Sonata) or Toshiro Mayuzumi (Concertino) but sometimes using similar techniques.
The new collection – 12 Solos for Xylophone has some more modern versions of the featured soloist tradition (particularly Long Country Road, Bouncy and Horror Chase) and also more melodic, rolling marimba influenced compositions (Short & Sweet and Melody In E) as well as influences from jazz, latin and dance music styles (Latin Jazz, Pasadouble Exprés and Dance Break). I have enjoyed working with the accompaniments to give them some interesting timbres with the intention of enhancing the brittle (some say cutting) sound of the xylophone and at times have resorted to indicating soft or wool mallets for more of a marimba-like quality.
All the music was completed in 2011 but with a change of job role and responsibilities during that year I never had the time to complete the backing tracks. Revisiting the music three years later has been good fun and I still enjoy listening to the compositions some of which have become favourites to whistle around the house. Sales of the Ten Xylophone Solos book are still good today as they were 30 years ago despite the demise of students learning percussion instruments (mentioned in an earlier blog from a recent ABRSM report).
The music (£9.99p including VAT and P&P) is available to order from the website www.prbpnews.info and if you want a preview I have made a short film including some of the music at http://youtu.be/c_Hrkw0iVdM
Order your copy now for the xylophonist you love this Christmas. (Never knew those words could work in one sentence).
© P. R. Birkby 2014