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Profile: tuned percussion

There are lots of tuned percussion instruments. Among the most common are the xylophone, marimba, the glockenspiel, the cowbells and the temple blocks.

What is a xylophone made of?

The xylophone is made up of different sizes of wooden bars arranged in the same order as a piano keyboard. The player hits the bars with sticks or beaters. Skilled percussion players can hold as many as six sticks in their hands at once, thereby covering a huge amount of notes.

What does it sound like?

Saint Saens, Fossils

The xylophone sounds like this extract from Saint Saens, Carnival of the Animals:

What is a marimba and how is it played?

The marimba is like a xylophone, although much more delicate and with a softer sound. Marimbas are normally made from rose wood. They are usually played with sticks with very soft heads. Marimba players often use 4 sticks at once, two in each hand.

What does the marimba sound like?

David Hockings demonstrates...

What is a glockenspiel?

The glockenspiel is made up of a series of tuned metal bars, usually made of steel. The bars are hit with mallets which have ends made of wood, nylon, plastic or rubber.

What does it sound like?

Wild bears, Elgar

The glockenspiel sounds like this:

What are the temple blocks?


Temple blocks are wooden slit drums usually made of camphor wood, and originally from China. They are struck with a beater and make a fantastically hollow sound.

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