Big Country (for percussion ensemble and rhythm section). Composed by Bela Fleck. Arranged by Olin Johannessen. Percussion Ensemble. For marimba 1 (low F or low A), marimba 2 (low E) , 2 vibraphones, xylophone, glockenspiel, shaker, 3 different-sized triangles, small drumset (snare, kick, hihat, 2 or 3 cymbals), bass guitar, 5-octave marimba (optional), soprano sax (optional) (8-10 players). Concert Percussion Ensembles. Medium-Advanced. Score and parts on CD-ROM. 18 pages. Duration 3'00". Published by Tapspace Publications (TA.TSPCE-18).
Big Country is a catchy and inspired composition by world renowned banjo picker and jazz musician Bela Fleck from the album Left of Cool by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Its simple melody encapsulates the folksy sound of Americana, and Olin Johannessen's arrangement wonderfully captures this through his scoring for percussion ensemble. Featuring 4-mallet independent techniques for marimbas and xylophone, Fleck's original banjo part transfers well to percussion ensemble. This arrangement also features a small rhythm section (drumset and bass guitar) to drive the two-step feel and includes optional parts for soprano sax (inspired by the original) as well as a couple optional basic marimba parts (in addition to main marimbas) for larger ensembles. Also, the xylophone and glockenspiel parts are written so that one player can cover both parts which may be useful for smaller groups. This is a very accessible piece, but it does require a good level of technical proficiency from marimba and xylophone players. It can be something of a 4-mallet workout and requires a relaxed and smooth approach to the instrument. As Johannessen states in the performance notes, "This piece is about making people feel good." Big Country is sure to be a welcome addition to your next percussion ensemble concert. This piece comes with a full, bound score and includes all individual parts available for printing on the included CD-Rom.