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Xylophone in Bali 1937
Xylophone in Bali 1937

The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family which probably originated in Indonesia (Nettl 1956, p.98). It consists of wooden bars of various lengths that are struck by a plastic, wooden, or rubber mallet. Each bar is tuned to a specific pitch of the chromatic scale. The arrangement of the bars is similar to the layout of the piano keyboard.

The xylophone makes use of both snare technique and advanced mallet techniques.

The xylophone has a brighter tone than its cousin the marimba, and the notes have less sustain. Modern xylophones include resonating tubes below the bars. A xylophone with a range extending downwards into the marimba range is called a xylorimba.

The xylophone features in a number of classical pieces, with the Danse macabre (1874) by Camille Saint-Saëns, and "Fossils" from the same composer's Carnival of the Animals (1886) being two of the better known. An early use of the xylophone in a symphony is found in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6. The xylophone was popularized in America in the early 20th century with the rising popularity of ragtime music, most notably through the works and virtuosity of xylophonist George Hamilton Green.

See also


  • Nettl, Bruno (1956). Music in Primitive Culture. Harvard University Press.
Last updated: 10-12-2005 19:33:35
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