Kowalski, Michael- Silhouettes, for solo marimba

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Includes one score.

5 continuous movements.  7-8 minutes.

Silhouettes is a suite grounded in the continual rearrangement of a set of very brief, easily identifiable gestures. Each gesture is designed to instantly tonicize a certain pitch, but not so firmly that each new tonic can't be overturned by yet another instant tonicization.  With variable pacing, the net effect is the liberation of consonance without recourse to the repetitions of minimalism.  The rapidly shifting gestures of  Silhouettes are deployed to create a musical sense of cause and effect that's neither tonal in the sense of Brahms, atonal in the sense of Schoenberg, twelve-tone in the sense of Boulez, nor untonal in the sense of Cage, but something new and decidedly unusual—something at once freer and less constrained by neurotic avoidance of the congenial, but still as arrestingly unpredictable as post-1945 listeners have come to expect from their new concert music.

The philosophy of musical aesthetics aside, Silhouettes was simply meant to be fun. 

The score was composed in 1977 and revised in 1986.

Review from Percussive Notes (Dec. 2020):


Michael Kowalski  

“Silhouettes” is a seven-minute, four-mallet work in five continuous movements, with near-constant meter changes and an abundance of fast notes working in tandem to display a figurative “chops required” warning on each of its nine pages. Thus, this is a solid choice for college and professional performances.  

This work features a variety of brief, discernable musical gestures, each frequently shifting the tonal center of the work, like a back-and-forth round of siblings stealing the TV remote in an effort to have the final say on what to watch, only to have the matter complicated further as more and more people show up, each with their own chance to steal the remote and their own unique takes on what to watch.  

Despite its complex nature, the piece is supposed to be fun, and it succeeds. There’s a great recording online and an excerpt ready to be viewed. If this sounds like your thing, check it out.

—Brian Elizondo  

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