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The UK brass band I play in is preparing a test piece that features a bowed vibraphone amongst the percussion parts.

We've been using a cello bow, well rosined. But sometimes when you start bowing, nothing happens.

I'd like to know:

  • What is the most successful bowing technique to use?
  • Is there anything we need to do to mechanically prepare the vibraphone for being played with a bow?
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    Check the bar edges are clean - they may get handled and grease from hands will stop the bow gripping. – Tim Sep 12 '16 at 12:44
  • Does the composer of this rather oddball piece have any instructions in the score? – Carl Witthoft Sep 13 '16 at 11:23
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    Indeed there are some notes about the percussion parts - faber-product-media.s3.amazonaws.com/… but nothing that answers my original questions. – Brian THOMAS Sep 13 '16 at 12:35
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I am a cellist and do not have experience with vibraphone, but from this video and this website, the following techniques seem to be important:

1: Use a bass bow instead of a cello bow. Bass bows are larger and have more hair, so they will give you more sound.

2: Press hard. The bow needs to be pressing into the metal to grip it— it's not enough just slide it over. Rosin helps with this.

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