What is the meaning of Roland Härdtner's Solo-, Piano-, Swinging-, Percussion and Classic-Mallets?
The musical style or the number of musicians playing together with Roland Härdtner are determined by the classification into the concert programmes and CDs, like „Solo-, Piano-, Swinging-, Percussion- and Classic-Mallets“. The specific repertoire is mostly compatible with the different instrumentalists. For example, when playing „Solo-Mallets“ or the duett in „Piano-Mallets“ he is able to use a large part of the other programmes for a concert. Also the quartet in „Swinging-Mallets“ is gladly booked together with arrangements taken from other concert programmes. At „Classic-Mallets“ the programme also determines the size of the orchestra (from 15 up to 80 musicians), which accompanies Roland Härdtner.
What are the unique characteristics offered by Roland Härdtner and his mallets?
The marimba and the vibraphone didn' t appear in the concert literature before the middle of the 20th century. Thus there are compositions for this instruments solely from the last 60 or 70 years. Already during his apprenticeship as a soloist, he therefore had a focus on arranging other compositions for this instruments besides the rehearsal and performance of original works. The quality of his arrangements and his vast repertoire with hundreds of adaptions for the mallet-instruments make him unique worldwide.
What are Mallets?
For the percussionist, mallets are the approximately 30 to 40 cm long sticks with which he plays the vibraphone, xylophone and similar instruments.
The mallet handle is usual made of wood, plastic or rattan; the head can be assembled in numerous ways. The core can take a variety of shapes and can be made of metal, wood, plastic, felt or sponge. Its wrapping in different thicknesses consists of silk, cotton, thread or leather. As the hardness of the head differs, the percussionist can produce subtly differentiated tone colours and can phrase the tone as he wishes. The correct selection of mallet therefore has a strong influence on the musician’s interpretation. They are handmade in accordance with the performer’s specific wishes.
What are Mallet instruments?
The family of „mallets instruments“ includes the xylophone and marimba with their wooden bars, and the glockenspiel and vibraphone, which are both equipped with steel or metal bars. The bars are arranged in two rows, the lower row corresponding to the white keys and the upper row to the black keys of the piano. All mallets instruments are used for both melody and harmony: this is made possible by a refined playing technique with two sticks in each hand.
The marimba stems from Africa. Its name is derived from “rimba” (=defined pitch) and “ma” (=several). “Ma-rimba thus described several tuned pieces of wood under which hollowed out gourds were placed as resonators. Slaves took the marimbas with them to Central and North America where they were further developed into their present form. Precursors of the marimba were also to be found in Asia and Latin America, primarily in Venezuela, where today full marimba orchestras exist, comparable in popularity with our accordion orchestras.
The vibraphone made its appearance in North America jazz at the beginning of the 20th century. It has a damping action similar to the pedal mechanism in the piano. An electric motor is used to set the air in the aluminium tubes (resonators) in motion: this produces the vibrating sound that gives the instrument its name.