Making Marimbas and Other Bar Percussion Instruments

Making Marimbas and Other Bar Percussion Instruments

Book with audio CD, by Bart Hopkin and Carl Dean with Chrostpher Banta 180 pages, 6″ x 9″, paperbound, generously illustrated with photographs & diagrams. Includes audio CD. Published by Experimental Musical Instruments, 2008.  This book tells how you to make bar percussion instruments of all sorts. That includes marimbas and related instruments with sounding bars of wood, metal, bamboo, and other materials. Some of the instruments presented here are simple enough for children to make, while the most sophisticated of them – fully chromatic marimbas with overtone tuning and tuned air resonators – are on a par with professionally made instruments. In addition to presenting complete plans, the book explores both the practical and acoustic aspects of bar instruments, providing the understanding and know-how that will allow you to create instruments of your own design. With the accompanying CD you can hear and compare the sounds of the instruments. It’s a useful guide, and a pleasure to listen to in its own right.

Chapters include:

Chapter 1: Introduction.
Chapter 2: Acoustic Principals for Bar Instruments.
Chapter 3: Overview of the Building Process.
Chapter 4: The Bars: Scaling and Tuning.
Chapter 5: Air Resonance.
Chapter 6: Bar Layouts, Frameworks and Mountings.
Chapter 7: Tricks and Effects.
Chapter 8: Mallets.
Chapter 9: Instrument Plans, including complete plans for 16 instruments.
Appendix 1: Scales and Multiplication Factors.
Appendix 2: Resonator Tube Length Calculations.
Appendix 3: Materials for Percussion Bars.
Appendix 4: Pickups for Bar Percussion Instruments.

There’s also an index and track listing for the CD. The audio sample below is a collage of several of the instruments detailed in the book. Author Carl Dean has made over 350 custom marimbas, including chromatic marimbas, child-size marimbas, and experimental models, as well as custom mallets. He has made individual instruments or sets of instruments for an impressive list of schools, universities and bands. Bart Hopkin is the director of Experimental Musical Instruments and has authored numerous books on instruments and instrument making. Technical and editorial consultant Chris Banta has been making marimbas for over thirty years, with an emphasis on bass marimbas. He, too, has made instruments for an impressive list of individuals and institutions, and has written extensively on marimba making.

Excerpts from Making Marimbas and Other Bar Percussion Instruments

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