Vibraphone is a tricky instrument to blend with. Over the past several years i've lead several groups that were formed to investigate the timbral possibilities of different instruments with the vibes -

1 . Passengers (guitar version) - vibes and guitar with two electric basses and drums, the same lineup Gary Burton used in 1970's for the classic recordings Ring and Passengers. In my mind, the guitar gives a bit more bite to the attack of the vibes as well as challenging normal notions of vibraphone voicings.

2. Passengers (electric piano version) - vibes and electric piano with two electric basses and drums, a slight change on the earlier lineup. More of a study into how to play acoustic vibraphone over rock drumset and two electric basses.

3. Everything After (woodwind version) - a look into combining the vibes with flute and the acoustic bass with bass clarinet. For me, the flute smoothes out the vibes. This can be a challenge of orchestration in different ranges of the flute, but the payoff is well worth it - its a beautiful sound.

4. Everything After (piano version) - Similar to the guitar, the piano has a better attack than the vibes as well as a longer sustain. The wide range of the piano also offers new compositional ideas, playing above and below the vibes and bass.



Using the vibraphone as a starting point, i have utilized several instruments as an doubler. These also serve as an extension, both in terms of sound/timbre and range -

Glockenspiel - The top of the mallet instrument family, the glockenspiel sounds two octaves above where written, has ridiculus ring and a glass-like sheen to its sound. Used to double a vibes line is to double highlight that line. To be used in moderation. Works well as an extension of the upper range of the vibes.

Tone Bells - The cheap second-hand cousin of the song bells (which i can't afford). Tone bells sound one octave above where written. A nice compromise to the glockenspiel, with a mellower sound but not as much sustain. All three together (glock, tone bells and vibes) is wonderful.

Chimes - Intense sustain and a somewhat cliche timbre. In my mind doesn't match well timbre-wise with the vibes, but works well as a substitute.

Marimba - The woody lower brother of the vibraphone. I have always admired people who use the marimba as their main instrument (Thurman Barker for example) because i've never managed to make it work. in terms of doubling i find that the wood vs. metal and very different attack of the two instruments cause serious difficulties. As with the chimes, the marimba as a substitute or as a counter-voice is my preference.

Synthesizer - A recent obsession. I have always shied away from the in-organic nature of synths, but have recently found new vistas by using them as doublers or substitutes. My preference is for cheap analog synths (Casios, etc.) and smaller amplifiers.