Saturday, September 18, 2010

Xylophones, Marimbas, and Music

"Marimba and Xylophone"
Percussion, The Guide to Symphony Orchestra Instruments, Created by Hayley Iben, McAnulty College & Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Duquesne University (whew!)


"The xylophone appeared in Southeast Asia about the 14th century. It became highly developed through use in the Indonesian gamelan, or percussion orchestra.

"The simplest xylophone were a pair of bars that laid across the player's legs. More complex instruments were developed that were mounted on a frame.

"The use of the xylophone spread throughout the continent of Africa, possibly by being imported through Madagascar. It became a prominent instrument in African music. It became introduced to Latin America by African slaves. There it became known as the marimba...."

There's more - a description with a couple of illustrations, showing what xylophones and marimbas look like; and a discussion of how a musician makes sound with them.

Read this, and when someone asks you where xylophones come from: you'll be able to say something besides, 'from a xylophone factory.'

Not that either xylophones or marimbas are likely to come up in your typical conversation. Still, it's nice to know.

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