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entrelacé, for four vibraphonists on one vibraphone

le son multiphonique au vibraphone

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Estimated Duration
1 - 5min

ISMN : 979-0-2325-5831-8

Notes on this piece

edgerton. #108. entrelacé, for four vibraphonists on one vibraphone

entrelacé. adjectif

Entremêlé. Branches entrelacées. Lettres entrelacées d'un monogramme.

Intertwined. Intertwined branches. Letters interwoven with a monogram.

Le cours de ces eaux est si entrelacé qu'on ne sait au juste si elles vont ou si elles viennent. Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)

The course of these waters is so intertwined that it is not clear whether they are going or coming.


entrelacé is scored for 4 vibraphonists on 1 vibraphone.

entrelacé has a particular function, which is to introduce an unreported (at least as far as I can tell) multiphonic harmonic.   To my knowledge, this multiphonic has not been seen in any composition, nor been reported in any published book, article, paper, etc. This multiphonic harmonic features multiple non-harmonic components produced from a single mallet strike combined with precise placement of a single, lightly touching finger. Compared to the commonly seen harmonic 4, this multiphonic features the right-hand strike and left-hand articulation at different locations on the bar (fig 1), although the left-hand pressure and right-hand strike velocity are similar.

The spectra of this multiphonic features two prominent nonharmonic partials with amplitudes far greater than the fundamental frequency (F0) (fig 2). The ratios of the two partials to their F0 changes as pitch goes higher and lower. In fig 3 I show partials x and y over the fundamental frequency F#3 (fig 3). Significantly, these prominent partials feature dynamic, temporal envelopes such that one partial (px) dominates at the attack while a second partial (py) begins to dominate during the sustain phase (fig 4).

Harmonic 4 vs  Multiphonic Harmonic.

(An isolated) harmonic 4 on the vibraphone is performed by lightly touching the bar at 50% from either end, while striking with a mallet at approximately 25% from either end. In this way, harmonic 4 is produced by lightly placing a finger on the central node of mode 2, in order to cancel out all other frequencies with nodes at different locations. The location of the strike point should be close to the amplitude maximum of an antinode of the second mode (see fig 5).

The multiphonic harmonic features nearly an inverse of location for strike and articulation compared to harmonic 4. Here, the player lightly touches the bar at approximately 31%, which closely approximates nodes for modes 5 & 6, while the mallet strikes at 50% from either end of the bar (see fig 6).

It seems only possible to produce the multiphonic harmonic by striking the bar with a mallet (and not by bowing) due to the comparatively low amplitudes of modes 5 & 6, compared to modes 1 & 2. This suggests that the multiphonic harmonic requires a stronger driving force to produce the characteristic temporal envelope of px to py.

Last, the analyses were conducted on the lower octave (F3 to F4) on four Musser M-series vibraphones (1960, 1984, 1995, 2005) and one Yamaha vibraphone. It is important to note that there was significant variation of frequency and temporal envelope amongst these five instruments. But, significantly, partials x and y were prominent across all models.

For a demonstration of how to produce the multiphonic harmonic (as well as h04), please the following video by Professor Olaf Tzschoppe:

Score Details
Format - A3 / Tabloid
Pages - 18

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