Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keyboard Percussion 2: Vibraphone

Ah, vibes. Such a misunderstood instrument.

One thing I neglected to mention earlier (for all you percussion neophytes), is that the keyboard percussion instruments are laid out similar to a piano. They play in concert pitch, and if you already play piano, they look familiar at first glance. You'll have no problem identifying the notes.

The vibraphone has metal keys and resonators, but also has a fan in each resonator tube that can be turned on to create a vibrato effect - hence the name vibraphone. Most of the time, the fan is left off. It is generally played with a harder, cord-wound mallet. Much like marimba, it's very common to see vibes played with four mallets.

So. Another couple of videos for you. (Why post pictures when YouTube is out there, right?)

And a more contemporary example.

And, finally, another Gary Burton clip, but solo this time. Watch the pedal (bottom center of screen) to see how much footwork goes into this type of solo. Also see if you can see "dead" strokes (when he uses the mallet to both play and dampen a bar at the same time) and silent strokes, called "mallet dampening." Gary is easily the foremost vibe player of all time, in addition to being a great composer.


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