Christopher Deane’s Mourning Dove Sonnet is THE classic work for solo vibraphone. Using techniques that are unique to the instrument, the player should take time to allow the effects to work in performance, never projecting the feeling of being rushed or frantic. Movement should be fluid, to serve both the music and the visual aspect of the music. Since the combination of bows and mallets presents problems beyond the harmonic understanding of the piece, it may be helpful to learn the work using mallets before working with the bows.
“In ABA form, Mourning Dove Sonnet is not only completely idiomatic for vibraphone, but also one of the most difficult vibraphone works available. Approximately 8 1/2 minutes long, the piece calls for two bows to be held during the A sections. However, these are to be held as the outside mallets of the Stevens four-mallet grip! The left hand inside mallet is a standard vibraphone mallet, while the right hand inside mallet is a pitch bending mallet. Obviously, the difficulty arises in the mechanics of these combinations. But it should be noted that the combinations of sounds that are consequently produced are numerous, pleasing, interesting, and excellently presented within their contexts. The rhythms in Mourning Dove Sonnet are generally straightforward, but 5 versus 2 is a predominant figure as well. In addition to bowing and bending pitches, the performer is required to create harmonics on various pitches and play on a muffled portion of the vibraphone. Parts of the melodic material are taken from an actual mourning dove song (hence the fide), and the harmonies are typically pleasing with little unresolved dissonance. The directions included with the work are very specific and easy to understand. The printing is neat, but there are a few discrepancies regarding rhythm (two 9/8 bars labeled as 7/8, a 3/4 bar reading as 2/4, etc.). All markings for harmonics, bending, bowings, etc. are very clear. The advanced vibraphonist will find performing Mourning Dove Sonnet a challenging and rewarding experience. I highly recommend it.” – Rich Holly Percussive Notes, October 1985
Performance by Christopher Deane
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