With hundreds of soundtrack recordings under his belt — including the Academy Award-winning scores for Aladdin, La La Land, and Life of Pi — Principal Timpanist-Percussionist Wade Culbreath is one of the most sought after studio musicians in Los Angeles.

This is a lively work that showcases Wade’s dexterity, speed and technique on marimba!

George Hamilton Green from “Edison Amberola Monthly”, December 1918, page 7. Archival source: Thomas Edison National Historical Park, National Park Service.

“Triplets” is a well-known xylophone rag by George Hamilton Green (1893 – 1970) that Wade has arranged and multitracked on two marimbas. Multitracking is a method of sound recording that allows sound sources recorded at different times to be mixed together into a cohesive recording. George Hamilton Green was a xylophonist, composer, and cartoonist who, at the age of eleven, was promoted as the “world’s greatest xylophonist”. He was a popular recording artist on Edison Records, one of the world’s first record labels, and was featured on Walt Disney’s first three cartoons.


The marimba is similar in design to the xylophone, although its bars are a bit larger and of a slightly different shape. Like the xylophone, the marimba’s wooden bars are constructed using the configuration of a piano keyboard. Underneath each bar, there is a tuned resonator, which looks like a metal tube (in earlier centuries, these resonators were made out of hollowed out gourds). The resonators amplify the sound of the bars when they are struck. The mallets used to play the marimba are usually softer than those used to play the xylophone because hard sticks or mallets might damage the wood of the marimba. The bars can be constructed with rosewood (first choice), mahogany or bubinga. The most desirable type of rosewood for marimbas only grows in southern Guatemala and is the national instrument of Guatemala.

The marimba has a deep, warm sound that doesn’t have the same kind of attack that one might associate with the xylophone. Indeed the sound of the marimba is often described as “mellow.” In the hands of Wade, we can add the adjectives, “fascinating” and “dazzling.”


Wade Culbreath was appointed principal timpanist-percussionist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 2009 and is also the principal percussionist with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and principal timpani with the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra. Wade studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he earned his bachelor’s degree and performer’s certificate.