Vibraphone, also called Vibes, percussion instrument that has tuned metal bars. Felt or wool beaters are used to strike the bars giving a soft, mellow tone quality. Suspended vertically below each aluminium bar is a tubular, tuned resonator that sustains the tone when the bar is struck.
This instrument developed entirely in the USA at the time of the First World War and it is made by Hermann Winterhoff in the 1960’s. He carried out his first experiments on a three-octave marimba with steel bars, a new instruments at the time that was being used in variety theaters. He installed a motor that was connected to the cover disks at the upper hand of the resonators.
In this way he achieved the typical pulsing sound, the vibrato effect, which gave the instruments its (original) name: vibraphone. The sound was introduced to the general public via radio recordings in 1924, and musicians began to take an interest in the new instrument.
The vibraphone was first scored for the orchestra from about 1933, albeit rarely. It began to be used more often from 1945, especially by composers of film and theater music, who were therefore the first to include the new sound in the orchestra. The vibraphone became part of the essential equipment of the recording studio. In modern ensemble and orchestra music it became more and more important, although it never achieved the status of other mallet instruments such as the xylophone, glockenspiel or marimba. Since the sixties it has been scored more often in ensembles than in the orchestra.
- Vienna Symphonic Library