The Objective Grading of Original Unaccompanied Four-Mallet Solo Vibraphone Literature
AuthorHewitt, Jeffrey Allen
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAn important resource in many areas of music is the availability of standardized graded databases of literature for solo instruments. These databases provide a progression of technical abilities that help musicians follow a proper path in developing new skills. Currently in the area of percussion, there are no graded databases for solo vibraphone literature. While there are several sources that contain subjective graded music lists, none of these sources have a standardized approach in defining each of their difficulty levels, and this creates contradicting information for particular pieces. The goal of this research is to present the first standardized and systematic approach to grading the difficulty levels of vibraphone literature. Influenced by pianist Jane Magrath's reference guide of piano teaching literature and percussionist Julia Gaines' research project on marimba repertoire, this research is modeled on Gaines' objective analysis document used to grade marimba literature with ten different levels of difficulty. With the exception of dampening and pedaling, all of the technical aspects required for playing the vibraphone remain the same as the marimba. Because musical considerations are subjective in nature, only the quantifiable technical considerations are used for grading each work in an objective manner. The technical difficulty of original unaccompanied four-mallet solo vibraphone literature is assessed through the analysis of stroke speed, interval size, wrist turns, manual changes, independence, dampening, and pedaling. Each piece's grade will be classified based on the highest level of technical difficulty found in the music. The selection of vibraphone literature for this research comes from pieces found on prescribed state music lists and university handbook recommendation lists. Annotations are included to describe the pieces that are particularly mislabeled, and a discussion regarding the performance challenges that each piece presents are offered. Three annotations from each of the ten difficulty levels contain a justification based on the results recorded in the analysis document. With an extensive graded database containing over one hundred seventy vibraphone pieces listed in the appendix, this resource will assist percussion students and educators in selecting appropriate vibraphone literature to study and perform within a proper progression from one work to another.
Degree ProgramGraduate College