A Multiphonic Harmonic on the Vibraphone

Michael Edgerton, Olaf Tzschoppe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we introduce an unreported multiphonic harmonic on the vibraphone produced in a manner similar to the way that struck harmonics are produced. For the vibraphone, a common technique in contemporary literature features the isolation and production of a single harmonic (h04) in the lower octave. However, through experiments by both authors on different vibraphones, an unreported multiphonic was found on the lowest thirteen bars on five different instruments in Bremen, Germany. In this paper we report on this unusual harmonic which features multiple, perceptible tones produced from a single mallet strike with precise placement of a single, lightly touching finger. Compared to normal harmonics, the right-hand strike and left-hand touch of this new sound occur at different locations on the bar, though the left-hand pressure and velocity of strike are similar. In this paper we refer to this sound as a multiphonic harmonic. The spectra of this multiphonic harmonic (Mph0) feature two prominent nonharmonic partials that are louder than the fundamental frequency (F0). The ratios of these two partials (px and py) to their F0, change as pitch raises and lowers. Not yet fully understood, these two main partials feature an evolving temporal envelope with px dominating at attack, while py evolves to a prominent position in the sustain portion of each tone.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalPercussive Notes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Music

Artistic work

  • Composition


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