With winter fading here in North Carolina and spring descending on us, flowers are beginning to bloom out of the recently frozen ground. “Spring Falls” is meant to paint a musical portrait of this change of season. As such, the solo is filled with ascending and descending figures that require the performer to move gracefully around the instrument.
• Written to be played with two mallets on a 4-octave marimba, the first challenge is reading both treble and bass clefs on a grand staff, flowing seamlessly from one to the other.
• Take note of the word “Freely” next to the tempo marking. The performer is encouraged use a lot of “push and pull” with the tempo. Use the video as one possible interpretation, but experiment with the tempo and try to develop your own interpretation.
• Use one hand for the repeated notes (measure 2, 4, and 6). First, it creates a more consistent sound from note to note. Second, it prepares you for the moments in the solo where independent quarter notes occur in the other hand (measures 10, 12, and 14). Treat these moments like an echo of the accented note.
• Pay close attention to accents and dynamics throughout. These can all be accomplished easily with advance preparation of stick height. Simply raise the mallet higher to play an accent or a louder dynamic. Note the two dynamics at letter “A.” This directs you to play the passage p the first time and mf the second time.
• Strive for the best (fullest) tone production throughout the solo. This translates to striking the bar in the most resonant spot—typically in the center or just off center, but never directly over the node (where the cord runs through the bar). From measure 1 through 29 and measure 46 to the end, there is no reason not to play in the center of all the bars.
• In the section at “B,” play the accidentals on the extreme edge of the bars. This will allow for a more fluid motion. Try to keep your horizontal arm motion to a minimum in this section by using mostly wrists.
Nathan Daughtrey travels the country as a soloist, clinician, and guest conductor working with ensembles and performers playing his works. When he is not on the road, Dr. Daughtrey teaches Music Composition and Percussion at High Point University (N.C.) and he works as an editor and staff composer for C. Alan Publications. Active in the PAS community, he serves on the Composition Committee, organizes the PASIC Fun Runs on behalf of the Health & Wellness Committee, and is the Keyboard Editor for Percussive Notes.