Modest Mambo (2021)

Modest Mambo

In my ongoing quest to make recorder into a rhythm instrument I turn my attention to Latin music. Music in genres such as salsa and mambo are often characterized by fairly simple chords, but lots of rhythmic interest. Such rather in opposition to western “art” music.

So here we have two chords, F and C7, alternating for four-plus minutes, which lots of activity over it. Since we have no strict rhythm instruments to work with, all the rhythm is made here by interlocking recorder parts. And through all the interlocking, this is a remarkable transparent sounded piece, for that it has 13 players, most of them active a good part of the time.

Those 13 players are organized in groups of 3 for the sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses, with a single contra (preferably doubled!) holding down the bass.

The soprano parts are a little more simple than the others, being largely limited to eighth notes, while other parts have plenty of sixteenth riffs. The real virtuoso action is in the first alto and the contra, both of which go into thirty-secondth territory. Imagine that, the contra being a prime locus of virtuosity!