Dolphin Dance Story

Dolphin Dance - Herbie Hancock

Story Line for Solo Vibraphone Arrangement


Dolphin Dance was written by Herbie Hancock and first recorded in 1965 on his "Maiden Voyage" album. It has since become part of the standard repertoire for jazz musicians. In this arrangement for Solo Vibraphone, the song is transformed into expressions of feelings that a dolphin might experience through the course of a typical day. The dolphin’s dance choreography is determined by intellect, instinct and your imagination as you listen to my solo vibraphone expressions of what it might be like to be a dolphin.

Intro I: Deep Sea Echoes (deep water echoes simulated on the vibraphone with metallic dissonant, overtones using pedal and mallet damping.)

Our opening encounter with the dolphin's day begins deep below the surface of the ocean where there is little light but many interesting sounds. He listens completely still, buoyantly rocking in his ocean hammock. The dolphin prepares for a day of play, challenges and turmoil. Using the power of the sea combined with his mastery of movement he begins his ascent, speeding effortlessly toward the surface.

Intro II: "White Water and Pop Culture" (glissing up and down on the vibraphone)

The Dolphin reaches the surface and stands upright bobbing with his head above the water line, watching the morning begin just moments before dawn. With the sun soon to rise, a beach house on shore offers sounds that are dramatically different from those he experienced from the deep. A pop song coming from a distant radio adds a dimension of human elements to the mix.

On the surface, he hears the splashing of waves and white water. In the distance, a radio can be heard coming from the beach house. The melody makes its way to the dolphin, offering subliminal hints of pop culture. The melody, slightly off key from nature's accompaniments of splashing water and rolling tide is enchanting to the dolphin but creates an uneasy sensation of crowded seclusion.

Intro III: The Sun Rises to the Surface

The dolphin watches as the sun rises and illuminates his world. He watches proudly at the sunrise believing that only moments before, he too had risen in that same glorious manner. It is at this moment of sunrise, that the dolphin senses a connection with the planet and the universe. With great clarity and purpose, he begins his day with a dance accompanied now by the resonance of his own imagination. He enjoys the ride of the sea, allowing his body to move with the waves as the orchestration in his mind overrides nature's physical sounds and delivers its crisp clarity.

Intro IV: - "Instincts and Intellect"

The ease of the rocking sea is comforting but the dolphin is reminded by instinct that the underlying threats both above and below the surface are always present (Sharks).

The dolphin begins zigzagging his way from surface to dive - faster and faster - from air travel to sea travel flaunting his agility only to himself and nature. His sleek shape and muscular dexterity offer him the freedom and confidence to take pleasure in his perilous existence. His unique view of two worlds gives off bouts of well-mannered arrogance.

Improvisation: The Daily Toil

Who knows what the dolphin will experience in his daily toil but one can only be sure that it will be different and yet the same as yesterday and tomorrow and he will be required to display his mastery of improvisation with nature in order to survive. He does so with pleasure.

Thunder, Lightning and Turbulent Sea

The Dolphin experiences fear and humility as the sea and sky crash around him in a stormy display of thunder, lighting and high seas. The improvisational requirements are so demanding that the dolphin becomes one of nature's puppets as he feels he is no longer in total control of his own destiny and his intellect gives way to total instinct of survival.


The storm recedes and the dolphin pays no heed to the experience as it was nothing more than part of the daily grind in a dolphin's life. His weary muscles in need of rest. His day is done. By joining the dolphin for a day in a song, we can get a little closer to understanding that we are all in this together - in a Yellow Submarine.

The End (musical quote: We All Live In A Yellow Submarine)