Keiko Abe

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is a Japanese composer and marimba player. She has been a primary figure in the development of the marimba, in terms of expanding both technique and repertoire, and through her collaboration with the Yamaha musical instrument company, developed the modern five-octave concert marimba.

Biography

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Abe began playing the xylophone while in elementary school. She studied xylophone with Eiichi Asabuki in Tokyo. At age 13, she won an NHK talent contest and began performing professionally on live radio. She attended Tokyo Gakugei University where she completed a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Music Education. She began working in the Columbia Japan, NHK and other recording studios while in college.

In 1962, she and two friends (who were also students of Asabuki) founded the Xebec Marimba Trio, performing popular music, arrangements of folk songs and some of Abe's arrangements. They recorded more than seven albums between 1962 and 1966. During this period she had her own show on Japanese television, instructing schoolchildren in xylophone playing, as well as a radio show called "Good Morning Marimba". She also began her recording career with a bang, putting out 13 albums in a five-year span.

In 1963, the Yamaha Corporation sought Japanese marimba players to assist in the design of their new instruments; Keiko Abe was chosen for her original and clear ideas of the marimba sound and design, particularly her concept of how the marimba should be able...
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