See Ya Thursday

solo marimba

I love to listen to stories. If the storyteller is good, it doesn’t really matter what the story is; it could be an emotionally neutral personal anecdote. Yet, something about the storyteller’s inflection, tone, rhythm, techniques for changing venue, techniques for quoting characters, accents, dialects etc. – the music of the telling – makes it an experience.

I also love to listen to Thelonius Monk – what a story teller he is! Any piece he plays is more about his playing than it is about the piece. He stumbles up and down the keyboard with a kind of intelligent incompetence that reminds me a little of the way the 70s comedian Norm Crosby stumbled through the English language. Or is that a “fig newton” of my imagination?
Believe it or not, I think that knowing those things about me will help prepare you to listen to See Ya Thursday. Another thing to keep in mind is that See Ya Thursday is written for a five-octave marimba. Just think, the lowest note is a piece of wood that makes the same pitch as the lowest note of the cello! The size of the instrument means that negotiating the contours of See Ya Thursday requires some subtle and moderately entertaining choreography from the marirnbist.

You may be curious about the title. There is an anecdote that I tell (and listen to) frequently which has the phrase “see ya Thursday” as a son of idée fixe. I didn’t set out to chronicle the week (Thursday to Thursday) that is celebrated in the anecdote. It is more my intention to reflect the informal charm of the telling and listening.

Steven Mackey