Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It is similar in appearance to the xylophone, although the vibraphone uses metal bars instead of the wooden bars on the xylophone. The standard modern instrument has a range of three octaves, from the F below middle C. Larger four octave models from the C below middle C are also becoming more common. The vibraphone is commonly played with cord or yarn mallets.
Below each bar is a resonator, a resonant metal tube, with a metal disc of a slightly smaller diameter located at the top. The discs in each tube are connected via a rod which can be made to rotate with an electric motor. When the motor is on and a note is struck, the notes acquire a tremolo sound as the resonators are covered and uncovered by the rotating discs. The player can vary the speed of the tremolo. With the motor off, the vibraphone has a mellow, bell-like sound.
The vibraphone also has a sustain pedal similar to that used on a piano. When the pedal is up, the bars are all damped and the sound of each bar is quite short; with the pedal down, they will sound for several seconds, so frequent rapid pedalling is common when playing a vibraphone.
For a list of famous players, see vibraphonist.
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