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The vibraphone (also known as the vibraharp or simply the vibes) is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family. It consists of tuned metal bars, and is usually played by holding two or four soft mallets and striking the bars. A person who plays the vibraphone is called a vibraphonist or vibraharpist.
The vibraphone resembles the xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel, one of the main differences between it and these instruments being that each bar is paired with a resonator tube that has a motor-driven butterfly valve at its upper end. The valves are mounted on a common shaft, which produces a tremolo or vibrato effect while spinning. The vibraphone also has a sustain pedal similar to that on a piano. With the pedal up, the bars are all damped and produce a shortened sound. With the pedal down, they sound for several seconds.
The vibraphone is commonly used in jazz music, in which it often plays a featured role and was a defining element of the sound of mid-20th-century "Tiki lounge" exotica, as popularized by Arthur Lyman. It is the second most popular solo keyboard percussion instrument in classical music, after the marimba, and is part of the standard college-level percussion performance education. It is a standard instrument in the modern percussion section for orchestras and concert bands.
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