Marco Buongiorno Nardelli

Tzolk'in

for three (six) marimbas

Program notes
Tzolk'in is the name of the version of the 260-day Mesoamerican calendar which was used by the Maya civilization, and it is regarded as being the oldest and most important of the calendar systems attested in the region. The Tzolk'in calendar ("Tzolk'in" means "count of days") combines a cycle of twenty named days with another cycle of thirteen numbers to produce 260 unique days. The numbers 20 and 13 were important numbers for the Maya: twenty was the basis of the Maya counting system, taken from the number of human fingers and toes. Thirteen symbolized the number of levels in the Upperworld where the gods lived.
This composition for three marimbas exploits the interlocking structure of the Tzolk'in calendar, where 20 melodic units are superimposed to 13 different meter regions, creating a cycle where pitch and rhythmic structures follow each other for 260 four-beat units for a total duration of 13 min.

Unit names are loosely inspired by the Maya day names:
1) The body of the world
2) The breadth of the wind
3) Darkness
4) Harvest dance
5) The serpent
6) The sleep
7) The hunt
8) Venus at sunset
9) Water jade
10) Underground
11) The ape and the architect
12) Grass
13) The growth of man
14) The sun at night
15) The bird on the moon
16) Insects
17) The power of the earth
18) Jade knife
19) Rain
20) The sun god

See the video of the premiere by the Volta Trio at the Eastman School of Music on November 30, 2010 (Chris Clarino, Jonny Allen and Erik Lutters, marimbas)

The score and parts can be downloaded from the IMSLP library here.

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© 2010 Marco Buongiorno Nardelli