Music Made-In-Michigan: Three Perspectives

where are we now?

Making a Sustainable Instrument

by Alex Smith:

In my experience as a percussionist, musical ensembles own large inventories of percussion instruments yet they rarely know much about their origins, specifically in relation to the natural resources and production processes necessary for their construction.  Additionally, the production processes of our globalized political economy often involve the outsourcing of labor and the allocation of international, and often rare, natural resources (David Harvey; A Brief History of Neoliberalism; et al.).  The music instrument industry presents no exception, and, because of such market tendencies, the makers, players, and natural resources of musical instruments are disconnected from one another.

In considering this disconnect the marimba particularly intrigues me, as the preferred resource used in the production of its “bars” is the increasingly rare, and endangered rosewood (Omar Carmenates; Honduras Rosewood: Its Endangerment and Subsequent Impact on the Percussion Industry).  Additionally, rosewood’s incorporation in…

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