for solo marimba (six-mallet)
Instrumentation: solo five-octave marimba (six-mallets)
Commissioned by Concerts in the Heights
Premiere: Concerts in the Heights, Robert Paterson, marimba, Fort Washington Collegiate Church, New York, NY, March 10, 2004.
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
Errata: in editions prior to 1-31-2013: mm. 184-187 rig ht hand chord should be C-D-E-flat (as in m. 190), not C-D-flat-E.
Komodo is not only inspired by Komodo Dragons, the famous monster lizards that live on the island of Komodo, but also by the surrounding ocean which contains one of the world’s richest marine environments. Komodo begins and ends with sections that evoke the magnitude and ferocity of the Komodo Dragon while the middle section is calm and a little wavy, reminiscent of the placid ocean and colorful marine life found in these waters.
Sometimes I am inspired to write a new work by something as simple as a title, a phrase or even a single word. In this case, the word ‘Komodo’ made me think of the Italian word ‘modo’ which means mode. In its most common sense, a mode is a type of scale. Sections of this piece are made up of Westernized Balinese scale patterns and arpeggios that are transposed up or down in a somewhat "modal" fashion.
Aside from any sort of programmatic or technical inspiration, I wrote this flashy, six-mallet piece to show off the bottom end of my five-octave marimba and to have something fun to play.
More Information on Komodo Dragons
The following notes and photos are adapted from the Komodo National Park website. Please visit this website for more fascinating facts and photos.
Komodo Dragons live on the major islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands. Growing up to three meters (ten feet) in length and weighing up to 135 kilograms (300 pounds), Komodo Dragons are among the world's largest reptiles. They are totally carnivorous and eat anything they can overpower. The larger ones hunt deer, wild pigs, water buffalo and even horses. They are also cannibals, and adults will prey on young as well as old and sick dragons. Other dragons may make up to ten percent of their diet. There are few verified accounts of dragons actually attacking living humans to eat them, although like any other animal, they will attack in self-defense. Although dragons may forage for up to 10 kilometers/day, they often hunt by what is sometimes called the lurk n’ lurch method. They lie, well camouflaged and motionless, along paths used by animals going to waterholes. When the prey animal is about a meter away, the dragon ambushes it. If the prey is large it goes for the leg, tearing the hamstring. When the animal is down it then goes for the throat and belly. If the prey if small, it goes directly for the throat and belly. It can also disembowel prey with its powerful clawed feet.
When attacking, if their powerful jaws filled with serrated teeth do not kill their prey, the deadly bacteria in their constantly-drooling mouths eventually will.
A full-grown adult Komodo dragon can run as fast as a dog and swim faster than a human. They can run at 14-18 km/hr over short distances using their short, powerful legs armed with sharp claws. But they cannot chase down swift-footed prey like deer. Dragons are good swimmers and may swim the long distance from one island to another. Like other monitors, they swim by undulating their tails, their legs held against their bodies. They can also dive and stay underwater, some say up to 100 meters.
They are also among the smartest lizards. Like other hunters, they learn the hunting skills and behavior of their prey. The Komodo’s keen sense of smell is its primary food detector. It can detect dead animals up to 8.5 kilometers away upwind. When it arrives at the food source, it will not eat until it has touched the potential food with its tongue. Dragons also have good eyesight and can see as far away as 300 meters. Their eyes are better at picking up movement than at discerning stationary objects. Their retinas possess only cones, so they may be able to distinguish color but have poor vision in dim light. Once thought to be deaf, dragons do hear within a limited range, probably between 400 to 2000 hertz. They are insensitive to low-pitched voices and high-pitched screams.
As well as being home to the Komodo Dragon, Komodo National Park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. The park also includes one of the richest marine environments in the world, including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays. These habitats harbor more than 1,000 species of fish, some 260 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong, sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles also make Komodo National Park their home.