Prism for Xylophone

Instruments needed:Xylophone, glockenspiel and woodblock.

How to order a copy:Contact Susanne Suttner, at the Swedish Music Information Centre.

Information on the piece: Prism is part of a series of compositions( among others Corpo for percussion, piano and double bass and The third figure for solo clarinet) which all are characterised by a reduced attitude - a very restricted number of figures/gestures which create however, by their mutual relationship, "unlimited" combinations. This basic idea - " the mutual mobility of the elements without threatening the entirety" - will penetrate beneath the surface and draw the listeners attention to the inner structure, the energy of the music itself.


- Choose a glockenspiel with a long resonance. The attack of the glockenspiel will be well balanced with the xylophone, not to loud. The resonance of the glockenspiel will give an illusion of " coming from the xylophone".

-Please, be ware of the tempo changes from measure 132 to the end. Subito!

-To achieve a well nuanced performance, it is preferable to use mallets suitable for both loud and soft dynamics (two tone mallets).

Duration: Approximately 8 minutes

Comments from Marcus hedenfalk who recorded the sound sample

Usually PMLG does not grade the level of difficulty for the pieces listed. However, since this time the part of the music chosen to represent Prism in the sound sample has a few hidden difficulties and as the listener does not have the printed music, a few comments as to what challenges Prism offers, might be in place. One thing that I find takes time to master ( at least it took some time for me) are the subito tempo changes. The sound sample covers a passage where the music changes between the different gestures mentioned in the text about the music. Each Figure or gesture is more thoroughly explored both after and before the recorded passage and has its own tempo firmly associated with it. So what the listener can not hear (but most performers will fear) is that you have to find the new tempo right on the beat where the next gesture begins which in a performance situation demands experience. This is also sometimes combined with playing a polyrythms or retarding a specified number of beats over a exact specified time (like five beats from fast to slow over to quarternotes just before changing the new tempo). Of course there is also a challenge to get familiar with the music and "make it your own" still respecting the precise notation. Finally a word on the request for to tone mallets. I found that at least for the recorded passage it worked well to have 2 medium or soft xylophone mallets ( I used hard core coated with rubber) on the centre mallets and hard xylo-mallets on the outside mallets. I only used the outside mallets in the fortissimo chords.

Information on the composer:

Swedish composer Thomas Liljeholm was born in 1944 in Gothenburg but grew up in Malmö where he studied the clarinet at the Conservatory. In his teens he became greatly influenced by Swedish composer Hilding Rosenberg and this contact resulted in further studies at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm where the clarinet gradually was superseded by the violin.

In the years to come, he was busy giving concerts, lectures and courses promoting contemporary music. During the same period, Thomas Liljeholm worked as a musician and also persued studies in musicology. Eventually his interest in new music made him spend more time composing his own and he also devoted much time and effort to the studying of composition for Lars-Gunnar Bodin, who was then head of EMS, Electroacoustic Music In Sweden. In 1980 he also initiated the forming of Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra in Växjö. In 1987, revaluating his position as a composer, he once again started to work intensly with new studies in composition under the guidance of professor Ole Lützow-Holm, Lars Johan Werle and Åke Parmerud at the School of music, Gothenburg University. This lasted until 1991. Occasional lessons with Klaus Huber in 1990 were also of importance.

From 1987 onwards, Thomas Liljeholm has mainly composed chamber music, but he has also written musical dramas and pieces for orchestra and choir as well as electro acoustic music. His music also has more contemplative qualities and is in character more profound than before. The importance to communicate with an audience does not interfere with his ambition to express ”auditive psychological thinking” in his music. In recent years his music has gained in repute. He has received several grants and scholarships and a lot of his work has been commissioned by different orchestras, ensembles and institutions.

Since 1992-2003 Thomas Liljeholm was acting Orchestra Manager (since 2000 Managing Director) of Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra. From 2003 he is artistic leader for the center CoMA - Contemporary Music and Artists.

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