Digital Dances is a difficult work for marimba quartet heavily inspired by electronic dance music. Its dance-like rhythms, unyielding intensity, and heavy bass keep the players and listeners moving throughout the five sections.
“Digital Dances” is a marimba quartet highly influenced by electronic dance music. Ostinatos, pounding bass lines and dance-like rhythms push players and listeners alike through the almost eight-minute work.
Broken into five sections, the3 piece stays at a constant quarter-note=150 with the feel changing based on the rhythmic density or the meter changes. Opening with an eighth-note ostinato that comes back repeatedly, the other players enter soon after with their own ostinato-like passage. These riffs make up a bulk of the first section’s material, as well as provide material for the future sections of the work.
The second section moves into 7/8, where it remains for the majority of the section. Brisk chromatic runs are introduced, which are also referenced later in the piece. Section three takes us back into 4/4 and embraces a 3-2 clave-like rhythm common to many electronic dance pieces, while melodies from the first section are developed on top.
A dead-stroke pounding bass line introduces the fourth section, while swelling sixteenth-note gestures accompany an elongated melodic line in the first marimba. This melodic line continues as the second and third marimbas execute hocketed triplet arpeggios for accompaniment. Finally, the 7/8 section returns to bring us into a coda-like fifth section, where the main themes from throughout the work come back.
The difficulty of the piece is mostly based around the quick tempo. While most passages should be fine, some of the denser rhythmic areas could be challenging to younger players. The entire piece can be played with two mallets, though experienced performers might wish to use four mallets in a couple of areas.
Overall, “Digital Dances” is a solid work for marimba quartet. The tonal language, easily identifiable themes and popular style would make this work a good fit for high school or undergraduate percussion ensemble concerts.
— Brian Nozny, Percussive Notes — March 2017