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?
  • 1
    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
  • 1
    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

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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.