Frequently Asked Questions
“What is percussion?”
Percussion is anything you hit, shake or scrape. A percussionist is often expected to be a multi-instrumentalist and to play in a variety of styles.
“What is a marimba?”
The simple answer is that the marimba is the “grand piano of xylophones”. The marimba is most frequently said to have originated from northwestern Africa, and through the slave trade, found its way to Latin America. Different indigenous versions exist across Africa and Latin America. In 1893 (or possibly 1896), a second row of keys was added to the instrument, giving it the same layout as a piano. After that time, the marimba found its way north to the U.S., where it then became incorporated into western (and especially classical) music throughout the world. It is a choice solo instrument of classical percussionists. Similar instruments exist throughout the world, such as the vibraphone, strohfidel, glockenspiel, and dulcimer.
Though the technical difference between a western marimba and a xylophone has to do with the tuning of overtones, there are other notable differences. A marimba tends to be much larger, it normally has wider keys and it more often includes a bass range (where a xylophone usually does not). Also, the xylophone is most often thought to have come to western music in Europe via gypsy culture.
Many people from many parts of the world have approached us during performances and have given appreciative feedback as we play “an instrument of their country”. It is truly a global instrument.
“What wood are the marimba keys made of?”
The choice material for marimba keys is Honduran rosewood, which is a dense wood with a warm, resonant tone. However, this wood has been over-harvested and there are now rosewood import restrictions in much of the world, including Canada as of 2017. As time goes on, the instrument is becoming more difficult and more expensive to obtain. Alternative materials include Kelon (a synthetic material) or Padouk, an African hardwood. We usually perform on a Korogi 5 octave rosewood instrument ("soloist standard size") which was imported from Japan in 2011.
“What is the Sticks and Stone concept?”
With three percussionists, we have come up with an elegant way to be able to perform every style of music. The concept centers on three musicians on one marimba, or two musicians on one marimba plus one on drum set (variations on this "marimba band" concept exist in other parts of the world, particularly with indigenous instruments). The Sticks and Stone concept is an answer to the question “what would be the simplest, most versatile percussion ensemble that could also actively engage with the widest audiences?”
For some occasions, we bring additional percussion instruments. For example, vibraphone and glockenspiel, djembe, congas, cajon, Korean Samulnori drums and gongs, triangle, wind-chimes, guiro, and many others!
“What is your stage setup? How much space do you take?
“What types of music do you play?”
Pop, rock, jazz, video-game, world, classical, ragtime and any other requests we receive.
Most often, we find audiences tend to prefer:
1. Upbeat music and
2. Music they recognize.
We tailor to our occasion and our audience. We also seek to creatively explore new music, as well as to educate and broaden people's musical horizons. Above all, we seek to have music making be a joyous, uplifting experience.
Can you play ________?
If you would like any particular music for an occasion, be sure to let us know well in advance. We are able to arrange and accomodate any style or genre. Here is a table showing some of the diversity of our repertoire.
How do you move your instruments? How long does it take for setup and take-down?
Setup and take-down depends on the circumstance. The ideal situation is to park as close as possible to the performance location. We usually plan to arrive at least one hour before we need to perform, as it can take up to that long to assemble the instruments (especially the marimba). In a best case scenario (parking next to our performance location, not having stairs etc), we may be able to set up in 15 minutes after arrival. If we are bringing more than a marimba and drum set, or logistics are more complicated due to stairs or specific stage requirements, we plan to arrive earlier. Sometimes we construct instruments away from our performance area, then bring them in to position for the performance (the marimba has wheels). The marimba is 105kg (230lbs) and deconstructs into 11 cases.
-To be clear: on any performance day, we are probably budgetting for a total of 4 hours of assembly time: 1 hour on each end for setup and takedown.
“What type of events do you perform for?”
We are open to performing for any type of event. Particulary, we enjoy playing for festivals, educational performances, and corporate events.
Please do contact us if you have any questions! We would be excited to bring an amazing and unique experience to your occasion.
"What if the weather is bad for our outdoor event? If we cancel at the last-minute, do we still have to pay you?"
If we have committed to an event, it is in both of our interests that we go forward.
Do you have a contingency plan for bad weather? You probably should.
We have an outdoor tent we can fit the marimba under if need be, in the style that vendors use at markets.
When it snowed in September, one festival we worked with moved many of their events to indoor community and business centres while adding many Mongolian-style tents for other outdoor events.
-Contracts can be made for guarantees to both parties, if needed.
"How much do you charge for an event?"
Let's talk! You want an amazing and unique experience from a group that can bring you something no one else can.
We love to perform and would like to share our joy through music with you. At the same time, we have a usual interest in striving for sustainable business, so that we can continue to do this for people like you.
There is a degree of subjectivity to valuation, but we would like to base pricing off of reasonable and objective standards. Keep in mind that practice, transport, arranging and administration time vastly exceeds the actual time you see us performing.
Let's find the win-win scenario!