vale (for three alto kalimbas, 2001) is a very simple piece. It consists of a melodic pattern which is built up in three-part harmony, followed by a mirror image of this process to create an arch form. It reaches its peak in a square 64 measures, inhabiting an intuitive, casual music space. It was composed during a period of personal chaos; a lunchtime sticky note puzzle that provided some focus. It’s more a lullaby or meditation than a composition intended for a concert, especially as I didn’t expect any performances in those years.
The entire piece uses the same two-bar rhythm throughout, except that it changes phase for the second section. The second bar of the rhythm becomes the new downbeat. The main influence was clearly Steve Reich, a variation on Drumming or Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ. These ideas from West Africa via America were distilled into a signpost-like structure for toy instruments.
The demo was recorded on an early portable digital recorder in the empty bathtub of my apartment at the time. The score is in G major, while my kalimba was tuned to G-flat then.
There is also a version of the piece for four kalimbas (one treble and three alto).
Recorded September 2004
Photo: composer’s instrument, 2012
Music and notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2022