Special Project: Marimba Eroica

The grand-daddy of the bass tone bars!

Chris Banta - Marimba Eroica designer

Project Overview: 2012-2013

Harry Partch - How the original Marimba Eroica began:

Back in the 1950’s, composer, Harry Partch, a philosophical music man seduced into carpentry, designed and built musical instruments to fit his special micro-tonal scales. To accommodate the lower region of the musical spectrum, Harry built a bass marimba using organ pipe resonators and large bars. He decided that the marimba’s lowest Cello C note (at 65.4Hz) was not low enough. This lead to experimentation into contra-bass frequencies powered by oversized marimba bars and huge resonators. Voila!...the Marimba Eroica was born.


Note: The original Harry Partch Marimba Eroica currently resides at the Harry Partch Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Link to Partch Instruments.


How this Marimba Eroica project began:

John Schneider, who is the Director of the Partch LA Ensemble which is a Grammy® nominated group, is the inspiration and creative force behind this effort.  His technical guidance, musical direction, and unwavering confidence in my bass marimba building skills, made this project possible.  In expanding the ensemble's repertoire of additional Harry Partch compositions, this necessitated the need to include the Marimba Eroica as well.


John approached me to discuss the possibilities of my building the Eroica.  In preparing for such a vast project, I created a Project Workbook in an attempt to define the assumptions and details of the entire instrument

CCBANTA Marimba Eroica | Project Workbook

Brief Overview of this Instrument:

Weighing in at 847lbs., the resulting instrument has four pitches: A-56Hz, E-42Hz, C-33Hz, and heaven forbid, an infrasonic super low F at 22Hz! The tone of this low F is not detectable by human hearing. Instead, the ear senses the emitted frequency as pressure pulses. Evidence of its function is manifested by the rattling and buzzing of nearby windows, loose objects hanging on walls, and other easily-disturbed things including humans.


As a point of interest, during testing one of the neighbors thought he was sensing the start of an earthquake. He walked next door to my shop and immediately recognized the cause of his disturbance.

In Concert: REDCAT Theater with Partch LA - June 7&8, 2013

REDCAT Concert - June 7, 2013 with Partch LA

Concert Handout | Marimba Eroica Technical Specification

Construction at a Glance

Marimba Eroica current location: LA Percussion Rentals.

© 2018 by Chris Banta


T: (818) 599-8410