Marimba Mojo!
More Zimbabwean-Style Music for Orff Instruments

Twelve graduated sizzling new compositions by Walt Hampton

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Mojo means magic, and percussionist/music educator Walt Hampton weaves a powerful spell with twelve more original pieces based on or inspired by marimba music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. A sizzling sequel to Hot Marimba!, this new collection provides a generous dash of spice to get your Orff classroom hopping-literally!
From the preliminary exercises to the last beat of the challenging "Musasa", your students will be inspired to chop 'til they drop. They'll fight over who gets to practice during free times, or before and after classes!
This collection hits the ground running and never stops to take a breath. Audiences throughout the northwest United States have fallen under the spell of the fabulous performances of Walt's student ensemble "Rugare" - a group of upper elementary players from Marcus Whitman Elementary School in Richland, Washington. Your groups' audiences will be left wanting more marimba magic - and you'll have "your mojo workin'" guaranteed.


  • Twelve graduated pieces that build on the skills learned in Hot Marimba!
  • Copy-OK scores for all pieces
  • Suggested Arrangements for each piece
  • Rehearsal and Performance suggestions
  • Suggested Resources and Networking for follow-up


  • Every tune played clearly in exciting full-length versions, many performed by Rugare Marimba Ensemble (playing Orff instruments and marimbas)


About the Author - Walt Hampton

A Word about Instrumentation

Zimbabwean and Australian Marimbas

CD & Book Set $33 inc GST


Welcome to Marimba Mojo! I'm glad you've come back for more! If you don't own my first collection, Hot Marimba!, then you should know that it contains some background information about Zimbabwean marimba music which this book does not cover. It also contains nine tested and proven Zimbabwean-style original marimba compositions which have ignited Orff ensembles all over the world! This second book reflects my enormous enthusiasm for Zimbabwean music, and its profound impact on my composing and teaching as I continue to study it. (I am particularly indebted to Michael and Osha Breez and the Musasa Marimba Ensemble for taking an interest in my student ensemble Rugare, and guiding my continuing study.) I have played all of these pieces with my student groups in grades 3-5, and the kids find them all very exciting. Some of the pieces are more challenging, some are more traditionally Zimbabwean in sound and style, and many offer new possibilities in terms of arrangement.

The pieces in this book are organized roughly in order of difficulty - the first three being primer pieces which will work well in classroom settings or with a beginning ensemble. The remaining numbers progressively take your marimba ensemble from the early-intermediate stage to what I would say is an advanced elementary school ensemble. Learning the pieces in the order I've presented helps build the required skills step by step.

Specific teaching suggestions precede each piece of music. In this way I address technical problems as they relate to individual pieces, rather than in general. There is a great deal of information in these notes, and it may be a good idea to read them whether you intend to do the piece or not. They are compiled from my years of teaching student marimba groups, and you may find that the notes to one song hold the key to another.

Most of the cuts on the recording feature my students in the Rugare Marimba Ensemble, playing both Orff xylophones and actual marimbas, accompanied by cowbell or double gong and hosho. A couple feature me demonstrating the parts. The arrangements on the recording do not necessarily follow the suggested arrangements precisely. Written or recorded, the arrangements are useable as is, although they are not set in stone, by any means. Your final arrangements should reflect the spirit and particular talents and desires of your ensemble.

I sincerely hope you enjoy Marimba Mojo, and find the pieces beneficial, as I have, for teaching many musical skills. The rewards of playing Shona-style marimba music are many, as I think you will see. So, play loud, have fun, and enjoy!

Walt Hampton, August 1997

About the Author
Instrumentation - Hosho
Terms Used in Arrangements
Rehearsal Considerations
Directing the Performance
Suggested Listening Resources

The Pieces
Heavy Roller
The Hidden Treasue of Nozqlmnon-Pfecklq
Meara, Meara
Crash and Burn

About the Author - Walt Hampton

Walt Hampton received his teaching certificate as well as Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Percussion Performance from Central Washington University. He has performed with numerous symphony orchestras, serving as Principal Percussion Trimpanist with the Yakima, Washington Symphony Orchestra and the Mid-Columbia Symphony, Principal Timpanist with the Tacoma, Washington Symphony Orchestra, and Percussionist/Timpanist with the National Orchestral Institute. He frequently performs on drum set, providing back up for several notable jazz artists who tour the Northwest including Clay Jenkins, Barney McClure, Kim Richmond, Floyd Standifer, Jan Stentz, and Barry Bergstrom. WaIt has presented clinics and workshops on his music and student marimba ensembles on the local, state, and national level, and has worked with student groups from the United States and England.

Walt taught for two years for the Pasco, Washington, School District before commencing doctoral studies at the University of Washington. While there, he became interested in the music of the Shona Culture of Zimbabwe. His enthusiasm for Shona marimba music was the inspiration for a project that incorporated his percussion pedagogy techniques and classroom experience and eventually became the basis for this collection of Zimbabwean-style music as well as his first, Hot Marimba! Walt has continued to study Shona music with Michael Breez, a protege of Dr. Dumisani Maraire, and sees his continuing studies as essential to his progress as a teacher and musician. He now teaches K-5 general music for the Richland, Washington, School District, where his student groups, known as the Rugare Marimba Ensemble, perform, tour and record.

A Word About Instrumentation

All of these pieces are arranged to be played on standard Orff instruments, or on standard concert or African marimbas. The pieces are all based on a diatonic C major scale. The registers the pieces are notated in are not exact, but rather, relative. For example, if the Marimba 1 part is notated the highest, it should be played on the highest pitches, but not necessarily in the exact octave it's notated. I have found that most of the Marimba I parts work well on soprano or alto xylophones, while the Marimba 2 and 3 parts work best on alto or bass xylophones, depending on where they're notated. Certainly the most versatile instrument for these pieces is the alto xylophone.

Contra bass bars sound great on these pieces, especially in combination with the bass xylophone. Having these two instruments double a bass part gives it a lot of depth and clarity. I have found that even though the contra bass bars are sometimes sluggish and hard to move around on, students will get used to playing them, until it comes naturally. When playing fast parts on the contra bass bars, one must think a little further ahead, and devise logical stickings.

As another option for bass, you might consider something electronic. Many companies now make percussion trigger pads which work very well, if you can find a bass sound which blends well with the xylophones. Some electronic trigger pads even have sounds built in, which is the most convenient, and often the least expensive solution. This is a good alternative to the expense of contra bass bars, but it is not always as musically or visually pleasing.

Zimbabwean and Australian Marimbas - written by Andy Rigby

A typical Zimbabwean marimba band has six marimbas, each played by one person; soprano, soprano, tenor, tenor, baritone and bass. Most of these instruments have a two octave range, and each has an overlap to the next one in the pitch range. Hosho (gourd shakers), drums, other percussion, vocals, and saxophones are used at different times to round out the group, and of course dancers are ever present.

All the Zimbabwean marimbas have tube or gourd resonators under each bar. In some cases modern materials such as P.V.C. pipe and fibreglass have substituted for natural gourds, particularly in times of drought. The resonators are fitted with membrane buzzers to give a percussive edge to the sound. The basic scale is C-D-E-F-F#-G-A-B-C, giving a European C-major scale with F# as the only modulation facility. The modern ones tend to be tuned to A-440, equal-tempered, although the traditional marimbas on which they are based employ a variety of pitch references and scales.

The Australian marimbas evolved into a three and a half octave instrument which covers the range of the Zimbabwean tenor and soprano, with a few extra notes in the high end. The main benefit is that three and sometimes four people can play on the one instrument, making it very sociable. This is like the Mexican and Guatemalan traditions. We have used tube resonators, with and without buzzers, and these are the ones I prefer for African music. Plywood box resonators have become very popular in schools (like Orff xylophones, only larger) but there is more difficulty fitting buzzers to these.

With the exception of one instrument in Canberra which has the F#'s included, we have kept to the seven note diatonic C-scale. Naturals can be easily exchanged for sharps or flats by lifting off individual bars.

Bass marimbas have been made to extend the pitch range downwards, and these vary from nine notes (C-D) to a two-octave-plus range. Tube resonators are used, with Jon Madin's adjustable buzzers to vary the tone.

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