by Alex Stopa
Instrumentation: 5-octave Marimba*
*This piece includes options that make it playable on a 4.5-octave (low F) instrument.
Alex Stopa has created a beautiful rendition of one of history’s most beloved songs. Arranged for 5-octave marimba (playable on a 4.5-octave instruments with the included substitutions), this version honors the original with grace and idiomatic nuance, sure to be a highlight on percussion recitals, weddings, church services, or anywhere one might enjoy the marimba’s expressive qualities.
Louis Armstrong’s iconic recording of What a Wonderful World is loved and recognized by all. Remarkably, this peaceful pop ballad, with its uplifting and optimistic lyrics, was composed and recorded during a tumultuous period in American history.
In 1967, the Vietnam war was raging, Martin Luther King was campaigning for civil rights amid race riots around the country, and the “Summer of Love” brought nearly 100,000 youth (‘hippies,’ as they were known) to San Francisco. These events embodied a climate of intense social and political unrest in America.
Amidst this turmoil, at an all-night recording session in Las Vegas, Louis Armstrong recorded What a Wonderful World. Juxtaposed against this political and social turbulence, What a Wonderful World, with its positive message of peace and tolerance, could appear out of place. It seems to recall a simpler time. Musicians and artists, however, have long held up a mirror to society, and it’s quite likely that composer George Weiss and lyricist Bob Thiele wrote the song after seeing how Louis Armstrong’s music helped to bring people of different races together.
Over 50 years later, Louis Armstrong’s performance of What a Wonderful World continues to resonate with listeners. The lyrics retain their poignancy and serve as an enduring reminder of benevolence and the human spirit.
This arrangement for solo marimba leads the original melody through a few unexpected twists and turns, while showcasing the mellow and warm tonal nuances of the marimba. Harmonically, it draws influence from the jazz idiom for which Louis Armstrong was famous.
This piece ships in a printed, professionally bound folio with a full color cover..