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date: 27 October 2020

Xylophone (from Gk. xylon: ‘wood’; Fr. xylophone, claquebois; Ger. Xylophon, Holzharmonika; It. silofono)locked

  • Lois Ann Anderson,
  • James Blades,
  • James Holland,
  • George List
  •  and Linda L. O’Brien-Rothe


(from Gk. xylon: ‘wood’; Fr. xylophone, claquebois; Ger. Xylophon, Holzharmonika; It. silofono)

Percussion instrument consisting of two or more bars of graduated length.

Lois Ann Anderson

The xylophone may take several different types of construction and form: a set of bars of tuned bamboo, wood or synthetic material, logs or tubes, supported at two nodes of vibration and struck with sticks. There may be one resonator for the instrument (a pit or trough), or there may be individual resonators for each ‘key’. (For similar instruments made of stone or metal, see Lithophone and Metallophone).

In addition to Western art music, xylophones are found in Africa, Central and South America, South-east Asia (mainland and insular), Melanesia, and the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia. In Europe, xylophones are used in the traditional music of Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries. Many 20th-century composers have scored for the instrument.

Individual keys may be loose or may be temporarily or permanently attached to a support. They may rest on the legs or thighs of a player, on straw bundles, banana trees, a pit or a trough, or be suspended between supports. Between keys and support, there may be insulating material such as rubber or plastic knobs, grass bundles or strips of cloth to permit free vibration of the keys....

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