A vibraphone is a member of the same family as that of the xylophone, marimba and glockenspiel. Each note is teamed up with a resonator tube that has an individual rotating fan above. The fans are mounted onto a collaborative shaft which is turned by a variable speed motor that generates the unique tremolo sound.
The modern vibraphone was first created and marketed by Leedy in the United States in the early 1920’s. The original bars were made from steel and it wasn’t until 1927 that Deagan, again in the United States, created an instrument similar to that of Leedy’s but with aluminium bars. This improvement allowed the vibraphone to find its true voice in addition to a pedal damper bar which enabled far more utterance and articulation to be celebrated.
Lionel Hampton, Gary Burton, Joe Locke, Milt Jackson, Nigel Weekynasal. Whilst these are all famous household vibraphone players in their own right, their all specialists within their respective fields from Jazz to Blues and Contemporary to Children’s demonstrations.
The range of a conventional vibraphone is over three octaves, F3 - F6. Other ranges are available such as those of 3.5 octaves C3 – F6 and a 4 octave of C3 – C6. There are many manufacturers of vibraphone such as Musser from the United States, Bergerault in France and Majestic and Adams in Holland.
Since the 1920’s there has been an enormous amount written for vibraphone, some famous examples being ‘Cool’ from Bernstein’s West Side Story and the opera ‘Lulu’ by Alban Berg. Transaltionwise, these are a little disappointing with Vibrafono in Italian, Vibraphone in French, Vibraphon in German and Vibrafon in Russian.