(Set of percussion sticks)
|Sounds from C4 to C8, written from C3 to C7|
|balafon, txalaparta, laggutu, marimba|
The xylophone (from Ancient Greek ξύλον (xúlon) 'wood',and φωνή (phōnḗ) 'sound, voice'; lit. 'sound of wood') is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets. Like the glockenspiel (which uses metal bars), the xylophone essentially consists of a set of tuned wooden keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. Each bar is an idiophone tuned to a pitch of a musical scale, whether pentatonic or heptatonic in the case of many African and Asian instruments, diatonic in many western children's instruments, or chromatic for orchestral use.
The term xylophone may be used generally, to include all such instruments such as the marimba, balafon and even the semantron. However, in the orchestra, the term xylophone refers specifically to a chromatic instrument of somewhat higher pitch range and drier timbre than the marimba, and these two instruments should not be confused. A person who plays the xylophone is known as a xylophonist or simply a xylophone player.
The term is also popularly used to refer to similar instruments of the lithophone and metallophone types. For example, the Pixiphone and many similar toys described by the makers as xylophones have bars of metal rather than of wood, and so are in organology regarded as glockenspiels rather than as xylophones.
The modern western xylophone has bars of rosewood, padauk, cocobolo, or various synthetic materials such as fiberglass or fiberglass-reinforced plastic which allows a louder sound. 2+1⁄2 octaves but concert xylophones are typically 3+1⁄2 or 4 octaves. Like the glockenspiel, the xylophone is a transposing instrument: its parts are written one octave below the sounding notes.Some can be as small a range as
Concert xylophones have tube resonators below the bars to enhance the tone and sustain. Frames are made of wood or cheap steel tubing: more expensive xylophones feature height adjustment and more stability in the stand. In other music cultures some versions have gourdsthat act as Helmholtz resonators. Others are "trough" xylophones with a single hollow body that acts as a resonator for all the bars. Old methods consisted of arranging the bars on tied bundles of straw, and, is still practiced today, placing the bars adjacent to each other in a ladder-like layout. Ancient mallets were made of willow wood with spoon-like bowls on the beaten ends.
Xylophones should be played with very hard rubber, polyball, or acrylic mallets. Sometimes medium to hard rubber mallets, very hard core, or yarn mallets are used for softer effects. Lighter tones can be created on xylophones by using wooden-headed mallets made from rosewood, ebony, birch, or other hard woods.
The instrument has obscure ancient origins. Nettl proposed that it originated in southeast Asia and came to Africa c. AD 500 when a group of Malayo-Polynesian speaking peoples migrated to Africa, and compared East African xylophone orchestras and Javanese and Balinese gamelan orchestras. : 18–19, 100 This was more recently challenged by ethnomusicologist and linguist Roger Blench who posits an independent origin in of the Xylophone in Africa, citing, among the evidence for local invention, distinct features of African xylophones and the greater variety of xylophone types and proto-xylophone-like instruments in Africa.
The earliest evidence of a true xylophone is from the 9th century in southeast Asia, while a similar hanging wood instrument, a type of harmonicon, is said by the Vienna Symphonic Library to have existed in 2000 BC in what is now part of China. The xylophone-like ranat was used in Hindu regions (kashta tharang). In Indonesia, few regions have their own type of xylophones. In North Sumatra, The Toba Batak people use wooden xylophones known as the Garantung (spelled: "garattung"). Java and Bali use xylophones (called gambang, Rindik and Tingklik) in gamelan ensembles. They still have traditional significance in Malaysia, Melanesia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and regions of the Americas. In Myanmar, the xylophone is known as Pattala and is typically made of bamboo.
The term marimba is also applied to various traditional folk instruments such as the West Africa balafon . Early forms were constructed of bars atop a gourd.The wood is first roasted around a fire before shaping the key to achieve the desired tone. The resonator is tuned to the key through careful choice of size of resonator, adjustment of the diameter of the mouth of the resonator using wasp wax and adjustment of the height of the key above the resonator. A skilled maker can produce startling amplification. The mallets used to play dibinda and mbila have heads made from natural rubber taken from a wild creeping plant. "Interlocking" or alternating rhythm features in Eastern African xylophone music such as that of the Makonde dimbila, the Yao mangolongondo or the Shirima mangwilo in which the opachera, the initial caller, is responded to by another player, the wakulela. This usually doubles an already rapid rhythmic pulse that may also co-exist with a counter-rhythm.
The mbila (plural "timbila") is associated with the Chopi people of the Inhambane Province, in southern Mozambique. gulu with three or four wooden keys played standing up using heavy mallets with solid rubber heads, three tenor dibinda, with ten keys and played seated, and the mbila itself, which has up to nineteen keys of which up to eight may be played simultaneously. The gulu uses gourds and the mbila and dibinda Masala apple shells as resonators. They accompany the dance with long compositions called ngomi or mgodo and consist of about 10 pieces of music grouped into 4 separate movements, with an overture, in different tempos and styles. The ensemble leader serves as poet, composer, conductor and performer, creating a text, improvising a melody partially based on the features of the Chopi tone language and composing a second contrapuntal line. The musicians of the ensemble partially improvise their parts. The composer then consults with the choreographer of the ceremony and adjustments are made. The longest and most important of these is the "Mzeno" which will include a song telling of an issue of local importance or even making fun of a prominent figure in the community! Performers include Eduardo Durão and Venancio Mbande.It is not to be confused with the mbira. The style of music played on it is believed to be the most sophisticated method of composition yet found among preliterate peoples. The gourd-resonated, equal-ratio heptatonic-tuned mbila of Mozambique is typically played in large ensembles in a choreographed dance, perhaps depicting a historical drama. Ensembles consist of around ten xylophones of three or four sizes. A full orchestra would have two bass instruments called
The gyil (English: /, / ) is a pentatonic instrument common to the Gur-speaking populations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast in West Africa. The Gyil is the primary traditional instrument of the Dagara people of northern Ghana and Burkina Faso, and of the Lobi of Ghana, southern Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. The gyil is usually played in pairs, accompanied by a calabash gourd drum called a kuor. It can also be played by one person with the drum and the stick part as accompaniment, or by a soloist. Gyil duets are the traditional music of Dagara funerals. The instrument is generally played by men, who learn to play while young, however, there is no restriction on gender.
The Gyil's design is similar to the Balaba or Balafon used by the Mande-speaking Bambara, Dyula and Sosso peoples further west in southern Mali and western Burkina Faso, a region that shares many musical traditions with those of northern Ivory Coast and Ghana. It is made with 14 wooden keys of an African hardwood called liga attached to a wooden frame, below which hang calabash gourds.Spider web silk covers small holes in the gourds to produce a buzzing sound and antelope sinew and leather are used for the fastenings. The instrument is played with rubber-headed wooden mallets.
The silimba is a xylophone developed by Lozi people in Barotseland, western Zambia.The tuned keys are tied atop resonating gourds. The silimba, or shinjimba, is used by the Nkoya people of Western Zambia at traditional royal ceremonies like the Kazanga Nkoya. The silimba is an essential part of the folk music traditions of the Lozi people and can be heard at their annual Kuomboka ceremony. The shilimba is now used in most parts of Zambia.
The akadinda and the amadinda are xylophone-like instruments originating in Buganda, in modern-day Uganda.The amadinda is made of twelve logs which are tuned in a pentatonic scale. It mainly is played by three players. Two players sit opposite of each other and play the same logs in an interlocking technique in a fast tempo. It has no gourd resonators or buzzing tone, two characteristics of many other African xylophones.
The amadinda was an important instrument at the royal court in Buganda, a Ugandan kingdom. A special type of notation is now used for this xylophone, consisting of numbers for and periods.as is also the case with the embaire, a type of xylophone originating in southern Uganda.
The balo (balenjeh, behlanjeh) is used among the Mandinka people of West Africa. Its keys are mounted on gourds, and struck with mallets with rubber tips. The players typically wear iron cylinders and rings attached to their hands so that they jingle as they play.
The earliest mention of a xylophone in Europe was in Arnolt Schlick's Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten (1511), where it is called hültze glechter ("wooden clatter"). : 98 and the earliest reference to a similar instrument came in the 14th century.There follow other descriptions of the instrument, though the term "xylophone" is not used until the 1860s. The instrument was associated largely with the folk music of Central Europe, notably Poland and eastern Germany. An early version appeared in Slovakia
The first use of a European orchestral xylophone was in Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre , in 1874.By that time, the instrument had already been popularized to some extent by Michael Josef Gusikov, whose instrument was the five-row xylophone made of 28 crude wooden bars arranged in semitones in the form of a trapezoid and resting on straw supports. There were no resonators and it was played fast with spoon-shaped sticks. According to musicologist Curt Sachs, Gusikov performed in garden concerts, variety shows, and as a novelty act at symphony concerts.
The western xylophone was used by early jazz bands and in vaudeville. Its bright, lively sound worked well the syncopated dance music of the 1920s and 1930s. Red Norvo, George Cary, George Hamilton Green, Teddy Brown and Harry Breuer were well-known users. As time passed, the xylophone was exceeded in popularity by the metal-key vibraphone, which was developed in the 1920s. A xylophone with a range extending downwards into the marimba range is called a xylorimba.
In orchestral scores, a xylophone can be indicated by the French claquebois, German Holzharmonika (literally "wooden harmonica"), or Italian silofono.Shostakovich was particularly fond of the instrument; it has prominent roles in much of his work, including most of his symphonies and his Cello Concerto No. 2. Modern xylophone players include Bob Becker, Evelyn Glennie and Ian Finkel.
In the United States, there are Zimbabwean marimba bands in particularly high concentration in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, and New Mexico, but bands exist from the East Coast through California and even to Hawaii and Alaska. The main event for this community is ZimFest, the annual Zimbabwean Music Festival. The bands are composed of instruments from high sopranos, through to lower soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass. Resonators are usually made with holes covered by thin cellophane (similar to the balafon) to achieve the characteristic buzzing sound. The repertoires of U.S. bands tends to have a great overlap, due to the common source of the Zimbabwean musician Dumisani Maraire, who was the key person who first brought Zimbabwean music to the West, coming to the University of Washington in 1968.
Many music educators use xylophones as a classroom resource to assist children's musical development. One method noted for its use of xylophones is Orff-Schulwerk, which combines the use of instruments, movement, singing and speech to develop children's musical abilities. 1+1⁄2 octaves, than the 2+1⁄2 or more octave range of performance xylophones. The bass xylophone ranges are written from middle C to A an octave higher but sound one octave lower than written. The alto ranges are written from middle C to A an octave higher and sound as written. The soprano ranges are written from middle C to A an octave higher but sound one octave higher than written.Xylophones used in American general music classrooms are smaller, at about
According to Andrew Tracey, marimbas were introduced to Zimbabwe in 1960. ♯ key placed inline.Zimbabwean marimba based upon Shona music has also become popular in the West, which adopted the original use of these instruments to play transcriptions of mbira dzavadzimu (as well as nyunga nyunga and matepe) music. The first of these transcriptions had originally been used for music education in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean instruments are often in a diatonic C major scale, which allows them to be played with a 'western-tuned' mbira (G nyamaropa), sometimes with an added F
7 April 1866 edition of the Athenaeum : 'A prodigy ... who does wonderful things with little drumsticks on a machine of wooden keys, called the 'xylophone'.'
...and Master Bonnay, on the Xylophone, is always recalled.Both citations refer to the performance of a child prodigy, Sunbury.
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument. Excluding zoomusicological instruments and the human voice, the percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments.
The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars that are struck by mallets. Below each bar is a resonator pipe that amplifies particular harmonics of its sound. Compared to the xylophone, the timbre of the marimba is warmer, deeper, more resonant, and more pure. It also tends to have a lower range than that of a xylophone. Typically, the bars of a marimba are arranged chromatically, like the keys of a piano. The marimba is a type of idiophone.
The vibraphone is a percussion instrument in the metallophone family. It consists of tuned metal bars and is typically played by using mallets to strike the bars. A person who plays the vibraphone is called a vibraphonist,vibraharpist, or vibist.
Mbira are a family of musical instruments, traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. They consist of a wooden board with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs, the right forefinger, and sometimes the left forefinger. Musicologists classify it as a lamellaphone, part of the plucked idiophone family of musical instruments. In Eastern and Southern Africa, there are many kinds of mbira, often accompanied by the hosho, a percussion instrument. It is often an important instrument played at religious ceremonies, weddings, and other social gatherings. The "Art of crafting and playing Mbira/Sansi, the finger-plucking traditional musical instrument in Malawi and Zimbabwe" was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020.
The xylorimba is a pitched percussion instrument similar to an extended-range xylophone with a range identical to some 5-octave celestas or 5-octave marimbas, though typically an octave higher than the latter. Despite its name, it is not a combination of a xylophone and a marimba; its name has been a source of confusion, as many composers have called for a 'xylorimba', including Alban Berg, Pierre Boulez and Olivier Messiaen, but for parts requiring only a four-octave xylophone(Blades and Holland n.d.). However, Pierre Boulez wrote for two five-octave xylorimbas in Pli selon pli(Blades and Holland n.d.).
The balafon is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone. It is closely associated with the neighbouring Mandé, Senoufo and Gur peoples of West Africa, particularly the Guinean branch of the Mandinka ethnic group, but is now found across West Africa from Guinea to Mali. Its common name, balafon, is likely a European coinage combining its Mandinka name bala with the word fôn 'to speak' or the Greek root phono.
The native folk music of Mozambique has been highly influenced by Portuguese colonisation and local language forms. The most popular style of modern dance music is marrabenta. Mozambican music also influenced another Lusophone music in Brazil, like maxixe, and mozambique style in Cuba and New York City.
Shona music is the music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. There are several different types of traditional Shona music including mbira, singing, hosho and drumming. Very often, this music will be accompanied by dancing, and participation by the audience. In Shona music, there is little distinction between the performer and the audience, both are often actively involved in the music-making, and both are important in the religious ceremonies where Shona Music is often heard.
A lithophone is a musical instrument consisting of a rock or pieces of rock which are struck to produce musical notes. Notes may be sounded in combination or in succession (melody). It is an idiophone comparable to instruments such as the glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone and marimba.
The glass marimba is a type of idiophone also known as a vitrephone or crystallophone. Marimba translates to "a xylophone-like instrument" from an African language, probably Bantu. The glass keys are made of either hard glass or soft glass. The keys are resonated with either a single open top box or individual resonators for each key. Mallets used to play the marimba can be constructed using a compressed silicone ball attached to one end of a wooden or synthetic dowel. These mallets bring out the purest sound from glass marimba. Other types of mallets are used for different effects. The tuning system of a glass marimba can be whatever is desired. Glass marimbas are utilised by the Brazilian percussion ensemble, Uakti.
Baganda music is a music culture developed by the people of Uganda with many features that distinguish African music from other world music traditions. Parts of this musical tradition have been extensively researched and well-documented, with textbooks documenting this research. Therefore, the culture is a useful illustration of general African music.
The Chopi are an ethnic group of Mozambique. They have lived primarily in the Zavala region of southern Mozambique, in the Inhambane Province. They traditionally lived a life of subsistence agriculture, traditionally living a rural existence, although many were displaced or killed in the civil war that followed Mozambique's liberation from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975. In addition, drought forced many away from their homeland and into the nation's cities.
The xibelani dance is an indigenous dance of the Tsonga women of the Limpopo province in northern South Africa. The name of the dance comes from the native Xitsonga language and it can translate to "hitting to the rhythm", for example, the concept "xi Bela ni vunanga". The name "xibelani" typically refers to the dance style while the skirt itself is referred to as "tinguvu", however, the term "xibelani" is sometimes used to refer to both the dance and the skirt.
The ranat ek is a Thai musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of 21 wooden bars suspended by cords over a boat-shaped trough resonator and struck by two mallets. It is used as a leading instrument in the piphat ensemble.
The roneat thung or roneat thum is a low-pitched xylophone used in the Khmer classical music of Cambodia. It is built in the shape of a curved, rectangular shaped boat. This instrument plays an important part in the Pinpeat ensemble. The roneat Thung is placed on the left of the roneat ek, a higher-pitched xylophone. The Roneat Thung is analogous to the ranat thum of Thai.
The flapamba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of tuned wooden bars pinched on one side over the node and mounted over resonator boxes. Sliding the bars slightly forward or backward affects their tuning. Unlike the marimba or xylophone, the sound is not as focused tonally. It is a bit more percussive, sounding closer to tuned log drums.
The American composer Harry Partch (1901-1974) composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, derived from the natural Harmonic series; these scales allowed for more tones of smaller intervals than in the standard Western tuning, which uses twelve equal intervals. One of Partch's scales has 43 tones to the octave. To play this music, he built many unique instruments, with names such as the Chromelodeon, the Quadrangularis Reversum, and the Zymo-Xyl.
SK Kakraba is a Ghanaian musician and performer of the country's traditional music. He makes and performs gyils, a xylophone containing 14 suspended wooden slats stretched over calabash gourds containing resonators. He was taught to build the instruments using a rare wood known by the Lobi as neura. Kakraba explained: "It's a very hard process, because you have to get the wood from five different places, only found in Ghana’s forests. The trees fall on their own and when they do, you cut them, dry the wood and lay the keys." LA Weekly have referred to Kakraba as the "world's greatest" xylophone player, and he has toured worldwide playing the gyil.
Bernard Woma was a well-known gyile player from Upper West Ghana who spent many years teaching the instrument and introducing it to audiences around the world. Woma earned two master's degrees in African Studies and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. He was xylophonist and lead drummer of the National Dance Company of Ghana and of Saakumu Dance Troupe. He performed with New York Philharmonic, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Albany Symphony Orchestra as well as Berliner Symphoniker in Berlin, Germany, and KwaZulu Natal Symphony Orchestra in Durban, South Africa. He performed his gyil concerto composition "Gyil Nyog Me Na" in 2006 at Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall, New York. He also founded Dagara Music and Arts Center in Accra, Ghana.