for solo marimba (six-mallet)


Written: 2007
Duration: ca. 5'
Instrumentation: 5 octave marimba (played with six mallets)
PremiereComposers Concordance, Renee Weiler Concert Hall, Greenwich House Music School, New York, NY, USA, May 2, 2008.
PublisherBill Holab Music

View ScoreBuy Sheet Music | Buy Audio  
Introduction to My Six-Mallet Technique | Basic Six Mallet Exercises



After writing Komodo, a piece that shows off the low end of the marimba, I decided to write a piece that focuses on the top end for good measure. Ghoulish creatures fascinate me, and piranhas provide the perfect inspiration. Like Komodo dragons, piranhas are vicious, but their reputation is somewhat exaggerated. Perhaps this piece is a Romanticized take on these fascinating creatures. Piranha begins with a rippled, fluid-like introduction, as if they are rising and falling and poking through the water’s surface. (This section pays tribute to composer Jacob Druckman and his masterpiece for solo marimba, Reflections on the Nature of Water.) The next section is a gradual crescendo, a build-up of tension as hungry piranhas stalk and nip at an unfortunate animal as it wades into deeper water. The animal is then attacked, reflected by the low end of the marimba and “marimshot” cluster chords. Satiated, they gradually calm down in the last section via a gradual diminuendo and the piece ends quietly with soft ripples and chords played with mallet shafts.


Press Quotes

The purely acoustic pieces also emphasize the richness of the technical means available to contemporary performers. Komodo (2004) and Piranha (2007), composed and performed by American Modern Ensemble music director Robert Paterson, explore in depth the geography of the five-octave marimba as played with six mallets. Each piece is centered on one end of the instrument’s pitch range, laying bare the harmonic subtleties inherent in the resonances of closely spaced, overlapping tones.
— Daniel Barbiero, AvantMusicNews.com
...it is clear the composer has delightful musical patterns in his grasp. He can also portray the sense of danger and horror. The shorter Piranha (under five minutes) has color and bite, along with subtle dynamics and articulated storytelling.
— Mark Greenfest, New Music Connoisseur
Robert Paterson provided my two favorite pieces on the [Mavericks] album, both performed with six mallets on his five-octave marimba. Paterson has become one of my favorite modern classical composers because his music is distinctive, innovative and experimental yet very accessible and enjoyable to listen to. “Piranha” is Paterson’s second composition and is a great companion piece to “Komodo” with its water themes, mystery, and nasty (yet whimsical) little critters. it is also very visual.
— Kathy Parsons, MainlyPiano.com
Out of most six mallet music I have heard, yours seems to be the most musical, in the sense that it really concentrates on the music aspect, rather than the fact there are six mallets being used, and that is how it should be. I can’t wait to start playing them... the music is fantastic.
— Gillian Maitland, Marimba Soloist based in the United Kingdom