Info for composers

Usefull info for the composer:

If you are a composer and you are going to write for the Aluphone you can find some advice here. The Aluphone comes in different sizes and the most used is the Aluphone Concert. It is a 2 1/2 octave instrument with the range from G4 – C7. You can think of it as almost the range of a vibraphone, but one octave higher. The sound can change a lot, depending on the types of mallets you are using. Soft mallets gives you the sound of Tebetian Singing Bowls, medium hard mallets give you more of a vibtaphone/bell sound and hard mallets make the Aluphone sound almost like church bells.

Practical info:

We call the Aluphone a transposing instrument sounding one octave higher than written. In this way an Aluphone part is easier to read.

If you are writing for a percussionist using 4 mallet grip, there are a few important thing to keep in mind. The Aluphone Concert is 2,8 meter long ( around 9 ft.) That means that a 4 mallet player can not play the low notes together with the higest notes, because of the distance (the arms are not long enough) The maximum interval for the left hand in the very low end is a around 4 notes (G4-B4), because the low bell are quite wide. The maximun interval for the right hand in the very top of the instrumet is 9 notes (D6-C7).
The low notes has a much longer decay that the high notes. The low G played forte sound for around 10 sec, middle notes around 7 sec. and the hogest note around 4 sec. Of cause the decay of sound is shorter when played piano. Hand dampening is possible in the same manner as Gamelan orchestras uses. mallet dampening is also possible, but best when using yarn wound mallets.

You can play the instrument with almost any kind of mallet like rubber, wood, plastic and metal. The Aluphone is easy to bow, it has a very fast attack and the sound is like a glass spiel. The sound is one octave above the fundemental when bowed.

Tuning A = 442

Aluphone 17 Note Standard is a smaller version of the Aluphone Concert. It has 17 bells and covers 1 1/3 octave from C5 – E6.

The Piccolo extends the range of aluphones with one octave from C7 – C8.
The sound of the Piccolo is beautiful and vibrant, and the shape of the bells is very similar to that of the Cymbal Antique, from where the construction of the modern crotales was made. Some say the sound may be very close to that of the original crotales.

Aluphone Bass is a smaller version from C4-G4. It can work as a bass extension.


The tuning of the Aluphone:

The unique sound of the Aluphone occurs because of special overtones that differ from the overtones you know from a piano. On a piano, the tone is basically formed by a mixture of the fundamental and the overtone, which is an octave plus a major third over. This sound is what our ears perceive as normal, and a sound you would think is in tune.

An Aluphone has a very particular overtone, which is located between a minor third and a major third one octave above the fundamental. The overtone is also very powerful and it affects the experience of the keynote. This provides the unique sound. The overtone of the instrument is not tuned, and that is what gives it the distinctive sound of a bell. Church bells also have overtones that are not tuned. For some harmonies it is perceived more clearly than in others especially in the low register. In the high register you dont hear the overtones very much, because the overtones are way up.  Aluphone has chosen not to fine tune the overtones of the bells, as it will affect the instruments characteristic sound.

In the videos below you will find more usefull info!!


Please visit Youtube and get tons of videos.

Evelyn Glennies Aluphone Guide

Aluphone played with bow

Marimba & Aluphone set up

Evelyn Glennie – info to composers

Aluphone played with bow

Anders Koppel & Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie – Aluphone in classic music

Colin Currie interview

Evelyn Glennie exploring sounds

Evelyn Glennie exploring sounds