mallet shaft collisions

While various 4-mallet techniques have greatly expanded the capabilities of mallet percussion, there are still things that may look simple but are in fact impossible on the instrument. One common problem is a passage written so that the player’s hands are asked to be put into an essentially impossible position, where the music cannot be executed without the mallet shafts colliding and prohibiting the correct sounds from being created.

Imagine the below example is around 120 bpm:

badposition

Given the speed, playing with the left hand handling the lower two notes and the right hand hitting the higher is basically an impossible feat. The chords would need to be played hand-to-hand (alternating between right and left), in this case resulting in the mallet shafts constantly colliding, not allowing right hand to properly strike the notes.

goodposition

If the music were to call for notes that would allow the hands to displace vertically, this would open up ample space to execute a passage:

In a passage that has one hand on the accidentals, the positioning will change and prevent most collisions.

Collisions can occur beyond just double stops, so it’s important to imagine where each mallet is going and how it will get there while writing quicker passages. Better yet, try to workshop it with a friend!