An introductory guide to vibraphone: Four idiomatic practices and a survey of pedagogical material and solo literature
The Vibraphone is the most recent addition to the mallet percussion family. In the last sixty to seventy years, the vibraphone has emerged as a legitimate jazz, concert, and solo percussion instrument. The wealth of literature, both solo and pedagogical, is a testament to the instrument's gain in popularity whether in a solo or ensemble setting. Since its creation in the early 1920s, composers, performers, and pedagogues within the jazz, classical, and percussion genres have contributed to the instrument's rapid gain in popularity. The physical characteristics unique to the vibraphone require the performer to use techniques often not applicable to other mallet percussion instruments. A certain level of proficiency with four-mallet chord voicings, mallet dampening, pedaling, and extended techniques is essential for success on the instrument. However, these techniques have certainly contributed to the vibraphones limited accessibility to high school students, band directors, young undergraduate students, and even some college professors. The purpose of this study is to introduce four idiomatic practices of vibraphone performance, provide an adequate sampling of the wealth of solo literature and a review of selected, current pedagogical material, and finally to present information about other miscellaneous aspects associated with the instrument to students and teachers alike with little or no experience on vibraphone. From this study, an individual should gain a working knowledge of vibraphone techniques, familiarity with solo literature and method books, as well as information on mallets, publishers, artists, etc. A lecture recital entitled: Four Idiomatic Practices on Vibraphone as Presented Through Works by Several Prominent Composers , was presented on the topic on March 27, 2011, with the program as follows: Nature Boy by Eden Ahbez; First Kiss by J. C. Combs; Concerto for Vibraphone , mvt. II by Ney Rosauro; Mourning Dove Sonnet by Christopher Deane. Each selection contains a thorough representation of a certain practice idiomatic to the vibraphone. The paper will address each of these idiomatic practices through three contrasting musical compositions by prominent percussion composers and one popular/jazz tune arranged for the instrument; see program above. This literature was chosen to help the individual with the techniques required to play vibraphone due to the presence of a given technique, as well as to gain familiarity with important composers and literature.