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date: 20 September 2019


  • Gerhard Kubik,
  • James Blades
  •  and James Holland


Term for a group of idiophones, some of which are plucked (lamellaphones) and some of which are struck (xylophones). In parts of eastern and southern Africa, it may denote either type of instrument. In Latin America, it is mostly used for the calabash-resonated xylophone introduced from Africa, but in 19th-century Brazil it also applied to calabash-resonated lamellaphones of African origin, and in Colombia it is used generically to denote any melodic instruments other than aerophones (see List, 1968). The name is now almost universally applied to the commercially manufactured, fully resonated orchestral xylophone developed from Latin American models. For full classification details, see Idiophone; for marimba lamellaphones, see Lamellaphone, §2(i). See also Xylophone, §3 and Xylophone, §5 and Vibraphone.

Gerhard Kubik

Trough-resonated xylophones are called marimba among the Zaramo on the Tanzanian coast near Dar es Salaam (Hyslop, 1974), as are similar instruments recorded by Hugh Tracey in Zanzibar. Lamellaphones, which were a 19th-century import into central Tanzania from the Congo through the Bagamoyo–Kijiji caravan trade route, came to be called ...

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Journal of the International Folk Music Council
African Music
Latin American Music Review