Say His Name - Marimba Solo
Say His Name - 4.5 Octave (low F) Marimba Solo
First and foremost, please understand that this is a fundraising effort. Every cent earned will be donated, and I have zero intentions of personal gain. Please read to the end for details.
I wrote a marimba solo to reflect the international outrage at the senseless murder of George Floyd. More accurately, this solo reflects the turmoil that we must treat as a tipping point in our history. The outrage and protests throughout the world aren’t the result of this isolated incident, but an explosion of emotion that has been collectively held back for literal centuries as we have continuously mistreated and oppressed the Black community. US history is full of bold and powerful movements for positive change, but never before have all 50 states held protests to voice this singular, collective outcry: Black Lives Matter.
As a white man, I cannot pretend that I am any kind of voice for this incredible movement. I have attended and will continue to attend protests where my only intention is to amplify the voices of the Black community, but not once in my life have I experienced the difficulties that people of color must plan ahead for on a daily basis. These stories are not mine to tell, and I make no effort to pretend that my privileged perspective should be heard. Instead, this solo is nothing more than an offering. Music is the language I speak best, and right now it is everyone’s responsibility to offer their voice in any way to support the Black community.
I did not know George Floyd. I don’t know what kind of music he liked or anything about his personality, so I made no effort to represent any wild assumptions in this work. All I know is that he did not deserve to die. He did not ask to be a martyr. He did not ask to be the international face of what is so wildly wrong with the United States. With this solo only I only intend to represent that unfairness, and the passionate, righteous anger that is necessary right now to sustain universal support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
About the Music
The piece is written in a custom octatonic scale, designed specifically to be uncomfortable and lacking resolution. Beginning on the note F (although Eb is periodically tonicized), the pattern is half step-half step-minor 3rd-half step-half-step-minor 3rd-half step-half step, resulting in the notes F, Gb, G, Bb, B, C, Eb, E. The rhythms in the opening bars and various points throughout are derived from two specific chants you will hear at protests: “Say his name: George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace” (the latter in two different rhythmic settings). For much of these moments the notes G and F are used to represent his name, along with E and D, the other letters of his name that can be directly represented in musical notes. Otherwise, the piece consists of constant moods of anger, unrest, and a desire for complete restructure. Because of my lack of experience in discrimination, those are the only authentic feelings I can offer to my brothers and sisters of color, and I want nothing more than to amplify their voices.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I mentioned that this is a fundraising effort, and if you wish to buy the sheet music for this solo, you may do so here for $12. Every single cent I receive for this, no matter the time frame, will go straight to Black Visions Collective, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization dedicated to true racial equality at every level of society. If the price is an issue at the moment, feel free to get in touch with me privately and we’ll work out whatever you can do. I would love nothing more than if, after purchasing, you forgot my name entirely and were only motivated to remember his name, along with the tragically long list of names that follows, and what we all must work tirelessly toward. Black Lives Matter.
While I do not want personal gain from this, I would like to know if you have any questions as you're working through the music, or if you are performing the piece. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.