Encyclopedia > Xylophone

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The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of wooden bars of various lengths that are struck by a plastic-, wooden-, or rubber-headed 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 has a brighter tone than its cousin the marimba, and the notes have less sustain. Modern xylophones include short 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.

See also: Marimba, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone

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