Marimba Bands Instruments

Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban & Other
Marimba Bands Instruments


Marimba Bands Instruments. Information and definitions via the web:

A marimba is an idiophone, a percussion instrument that produces sound by means of vibrations that travel through the entire body of the instrument. The idiophone family also includes triangles and cymbals, all instruments that form part of the percussion section of an orchestra.

One subset of the idiophone family is the group of instruments played with mallets, and the marimba belongs to this group. In fact, the marimba is the largest mallet instrument. Other mallet instruments include the vibraphone, the xylophone, the chimes or tubular bells, the glockenspiel, the steel drums, and the crotales or antique cymbals. While historically a variety of struck and plucked instruments from Africa and Latin America have been called marimba, today the terms is mainly used for the modern orchestral marimba.

Like the xylophone, the orchestral marimba is a set of wooden bars, often rosewood, mounted on a stand, with each bar having its own resonator. This distinguishes it from the other mallet instruments which have bars made of metal. The marimba is also distinguished by its resonant, mellow tone, which contrasts with the xylophone’s sound, which has little sustain and can be both brittle-sounding and piercing. The first orchestral marimba’s were manufactured in the United States in 1910.

A standard “concert marimba” has a 4 1/3 octave range, while solo instruments are 5 octaves, and it is a non-transposing instrument, usually scored on the grand staff. The lowest pitches are customarily placed to the players left. The marimba is traditionally played with a variety of mallets, but the hardest of hard mallets are avoided so as not to risk cracking the bars.

An instrument called the xylorimba, or sometimes the xylo-marimba or marimba-xylophone, covers the range of both marimba and xylophone, but the sound is more like that of the xylophone. Alban Berg, and Olivier Messiaen wrote for xylorimba, but the parts are played on a xylophone. Pierre Boulez, wrote for xylorimba in several pieces: in once case, the part is played on a xylophone, in the other, the parts are played on a combination of xylophones and marimbas. Composers for marimba have included Percy Grainger, Darius Milhaud, Carl Orff, and Igor Stravinsky, who reportedly called for a marimba-xylophone, but meant a marimba. Famous marimba players have included Clair Omar Mussser, Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, Keiko Abe, and Evelyn Glennie.

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