Tag Archives: marimba

Building the Modern Marimba

Meeting retired music teacher James Bailey in June 2016 over a cup of coffee in Adelaide Hills, Australia, we developed a concept for a collaborative job that would involve three countries, the Las Vegas neighborhood, and 3 departments on the UNLV school.

Marimba building is a carefully guarded craft, with only a handful specialists running worldwide. Baily had constructed 40 marimbas in his profession, however was now retired. He wanted to make one more marimba, but this time to document the process– not just for his legacy, however to show marimba players just how much work enters into the making of the instrument, permitting them to value their instrument in a much deeper way.

In January Bailey and the UNLV Percussion Studio began to construct a five-octave performance marimba on the UNLV campus. Not only did we start the project in its own right, but we dealt with two film trainees to turn the procedure into a first-of-its-kind documentary.

Similar in appearance to a xylophone, a marimba is a percussion instrument that consists of a set of wooden bars organized like the keys of a piano and struck with mallets. Underneath, a series of pipelines, called resonators, aid amplify the noise.


Constructing the Modern Marimba Grand Unveiling May 9

The grand unveiling of the interdisciplinary task “Constructing the Modern Marimba” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, in the Doc Rando Recital Hall. Please sign up with professors Timothy Jones and James Bailey to experience the culmination of this four-month project with a one-hour discussion of the marimba and the construction process in addition to efficiency examples from UNLV percussion trainees.

Learn about the task from its inception over a cup of coffee in the Adelaide hills, to sourcing rosewood from Honduras, to working together with associates across the College of Fine Arts, to hands-on work from the college’s students, to lastly a lovely musical instrument. This marimba fulfills any professional equivalent in timbrel quality and style. And it was conceived and built by UNLV minds, hands, imagination, and artistry!