Xi is an interactive music composition for timbila (marimba of Mozambique) which combines real and virtual timbilas (3D virtual models with a game-engine system).
This work was commissioned by percussionist Miquel Bernat for his timbila project. Timbila.org is collaborative environment merging European and African cultures throughout the Timbila Instrument of the Chopi people, which is investigated as a source for music composition and performance.
How did the project start? A number of members of Drumming-GP Percussion group (Portugal) led by Miquel Bernat, undertook several field-work trips to Mozambique, in liaison with timbila player Matchume Zango. Drumming-GP learnt to play the timbila and one by one, acquired a set of instruments to complete a full timbila orchestra from timbila maestro Venancio Mbande. Miquel Bernat / Drumming-GP started to commission European Composers to write for timbila, which included works for Timbila and Electronics. This included commissions to composers such as Jean-Luc Fafchamps's "Wooden Mind" for 7 timbilas of Mozambique completed in 2011; Ricardo Climent's "Xi" for solo timbila and Electronics, completed in 2012 , George van Dam's violin concerto with orchestra of Timbilas and Polo Vallejo's work for timbila 'Palindrumming'.
The timbila instrument is traditionally performed as an ensemble of ten mbilas (singular of timbila) of four different sizes to accompany ceremonies and Chopi rituals. I conceived the first 3D models of the timbila to be performed alongside a solo mbila for his composition 'Xi' for Timbila and electronics. These first 3D models developed for the Blender Game Engine and OpenAL usig the kinect. In 2014, more advanced models were created by Manusamo & Bzika, who are an interdisciplinary group created by Manuel Ferrer Hernandéz (visual artist) y Alena Mesarosova (architect), focused on the creation of interactive installations involving the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D modelling.