Xylophone Facts

By Mark Orwell

A xylophone is a musical instrument that consists of a series of bars of varying lengths. These bars are played by striking them with a mallet in order to make a sound. Both bars and mallets are made of varied materials, depending on where the xylophone is made. These instruments are popular worldwide in both orchestras and smaller settings.

Identification

A xylophone looks similar to a keyboard in that it is a long rectangle that the player stands in front of. The bars run from long on the left, to short on the right, and the whole things is usually held up on a stand.

Materials

Bars are traditionally made of wood, though many xylophones have metal ones as well. Mallets can be made of wood, rubber or metal.

Origin

The xylophone originated in Asia and began as a series of wooden bars attached to some gourds. The oldest known xylophone dates as far back as 2000 B.C.

Golden Age

The xylophone was most popular from 1910 to 1940 when it regularly appeared on stage in vaudeville acts. Jazz ensembles also used the instrument, though it was replaced by the vibraphone during the 1940s.

Tuning

Xylophones can be tuned in a number of different ways, depending on where it is made. Some xylophones have a deeper sound, while other are made to produce the sounds in higher octaves.