Skip to main content

Hi, everyone!

A few months ago, I was hanging out in the "green room" before a new music concert at my school (UD). I had finished setting up for a multi-percussion piece and was thinking about some ideas I might explore on vibes during the improv performance that would happen later in the evening. There were some treats sitting around back stage, in tupperware and on suran-wrap covered plates (for the post concert reception). There was also a whole box of aluminum foil sitting on a table across the room. I noticed the box and immediately had a flashback to my mother's voice, "WHAT AREYA DOING? You're wasting all my aluminum foil!"— as a kid, I liked to make shapes with mom's aluminum foil.
Naturally, I identified with the lone box as an opportunity to fulfill my once 'foiled' attempt at an aluminum hat, aluminum gloves, and aluminum shoe covers. I picked up the box, ready to play, half expecting to receive a similar scolding from the box's owner. But I digress...

As soon as I pulled a sheet of foil off the roll, it dawned on me that a more important experiment had to take place that evening; I brought the foil out to the vibes, placed it on top of the bars and struck some notes. I would describe the sound as, "acoustic static", it was delightful and inspiring! During the performance, I had ~3 pieces of foil resting on the bars at any given time; I mostly crumpled them into loose balls or laid them straight over the bars. I didn't cover the whole range, but experimented with the effect in different registers.

I'm posting this because I think/hope some of you may 'get a kick' out of this!
I'd also like to ask if you've experimented with "prepared vibraphone" in any way, shape or form. It may be a long shot but who knows? Have you got any stories/ non-standard timbrel ideas?

Would love to hear them!



Drew Johnson Tue, 05/29/2012 - 18:00

I commissioned a piece for vibes from Thad Anderson... he wrote me a piece for prepared vibraphone in the same way you prepared it, with aluminum foil. The piece was called "Second Reconstruction". It was based on the rhythmic cell idea of John Cage's "Second Construction". It was a pretty cool piece, although I'm not really in to minimalism as much as I was when I was younger. I used to be heavily into it. I still like most of John Adams's stuff, though : )

dale Mon, 06/04/2012 - 10:33

One time a friend was teaching a drumline and asked if I had a copy of " Flight of the

Bumblebee". I said yes and then I showed him a piece of wax-paper on top of the Vibes...

Just like a homemade cazoo..waxpaper & a comb..anyways the vibraphone buzzed like a bumblebee,

I don't know if he used it or not..but that was one time I tried something different.