Building a Mahler Hammer

The Duke University Wind Symphony recently performed Steven Bryant’sEcstatic Waters“. The score calls for a Mahler Box to be struck at the climax of the piece. I won’t go into the details of the Mahler Box other than to say that it’s origin is Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, the so called “Tragic” symphony which calls on percussionists to produce a loud, thudding sound “like the fall of an axe”. Various methods have been used over the years but a wooden box struck with a large wooden hammer has seemed to prevail.

I took on the task of building a large wooden hammer while members of the percussion, horn, and bassoon section took on the the construction of a large wooden box. Below you’ll find links to pages that detail the construction of a hammer that provides a large striking surface and looks quite dramatic while in use.

2 thoughts on “Building a Mahler Hammer

  1. I have a performance of this next week, (mahler 6) How long does it take to make one of these….It seems that even in NYC what the rental place is suggesting is quite small and doesnt qualify for a Mahler hammer. Do you know where I can either have one made or rent. Neil Varon, Eastman School of Music, 585 2490968

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