Sonata for Susan by Zach Koors was composed in December of 2015 as a gift for his undergraduate professor, Susan Powell. Since Susan has specialized in xylophone ragtime throughout her career, Koors incorporated some ideas from this venerable tradition into the piece. The most notable is the use of the “trick rhythm,” famously developed and utilized by George Hamilton Green. The “trick rhythm” is a three-note sticking pattern that creates a hemiola effect rhythmically, while also producing a complex-sounding array of melodic motifs with just two mallets. Zach uses this brilliantly throughout his piece and has produced a uniquely endearing and heartfelt piece for an instrument that is frequently used for comedic or colorful effect.
Although Sonata for Susan was originally composed for a 4-octave xylophone, if one isn’t available, it can be just as effectively performed on a 4-octave marimba.