Xylophone and friends

The Xylophone and friends is part of the Percussion family.

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The xylophone originally came from Africa and Asia, but has a Greek name that means "wood sound”. The modern xylophone has wooden bars or keys arranged like the keys of the piano, which the player hits with a mallet.

You can change the quality of the pitch by using different kinds of mallets (hard or soft), and by hitting the wooden bars in different ways. Attached to the bottom of the wooden bars are metal tubes called resonators, where the sound vibrates. This gives the xylophone its bright bell-like sound. The xylophone is a popular solo instrument as well as being used in symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles and film scores. Xylophones are noted for their bright and penetrating sound. 

The marimba is very similar to the xylophone, but its resonators are typically made of wood or plastic, and it’s also a larger instrument. The vibraphone is also closely related, but it has metal bars and resonators, and small rotating discs inside that are controlled by an electric motor. If this is turned on when the bars are struck, it causes extra vibration that gives the vibraphone its signature sound. The glockenspiel is often grouped with these instruments as it is also laid out in the same way, but the bars are made of metal. It is always played with a hard mallet to get the high twinkling sound associated with the glockenspiel.

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