One Hundred Years of the Concert Marimba: American and Japanese Innovation and Convergence, 1915 to 2014
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The United States and Japan are the two main contributors to the development of the concert marimba and its repertoire. There is an account in each country about how the concert marimba developed, but each is missing the parallel aspect of the story. In this dissertation, I will weave both strands together in order to provide a more complete story of the development of the concert marimba from 1950 to 2014 in both the United States and Japan. I will discuss the two approaches that initially emerged in the two countries, the roots of their approaches, and how they converged to result in the design, construction, and repertoire of the modern concert marimba. This dissertation details the significant historical and musical interactions between the United States and Japan that affected the development of the marimba and its repertoire from its ancestry through 2014. Topics include the emergence of the concert marimba both in popular culture and as a “classical” instrument, cultural perceptions of the instrument in each country, advancements in four-mallet marimba pedagogy and repertoire, the expansion of the instrument’s range, the increase in the number of marimbists, and the emergence of world marimba competitions. All of these factors ultimately contributed to the marimba’s recognition as a concert instrument in the field of classical music.
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