Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Dominican Marimba
This marimba was made by Elio Trabal and me following a field trip to Dominican Republic in 2003, sponsored by the McNair Foundation. We filmed and recorded a rural band called Nuevo Renacer led by Lorenzo Brito in the village of Rancho de los Platanos, in the mountains above the town of Moca. His band had a marimba like this one, but smaller. Based on photos, we built this replica. It is painted in the Oberlin colors of crimson and gold, and decorated with a map of Dominican Republic, with a star marking Elio's home town of La Vega. The tongues are stainless steel kitchen spatulas. They produce three deep tones. To play the marimba, you lean it against a wall (hence the curved back), sit on top of it straddling the tongues, and pluck the tongues with a chip of rubber. At the same time, you hit the side of the box with a small tin can.