The xylophone is a musical instrument consisting of wooden bars over a resonator or resonating chambers/tubes where the bars are struck with mallets to produce the notes, each bar playing a single, constant pitch.
The xylophone is very similar to the marimba. The marimba is in fact technically a xylophone. However the marimba is a low-pitched instrument and the term “xylophone” is generally used to refer to higher-pitched instruments. The xylophone also bears a more distant relationship to the glockenspiel and to the vibraphone.
The xylophone is believed to have originated in the Far East and to have been introduced into Africa in 500AD, though some argue that the African versions originated separately. The word “xylophone” was first used in the nineteenth century and the instrument was introduced into Western orchestral music by Saint-Saëns in “Danse Macabre” to evocatively represent the rattling of skeletons dancing. The xylophone was reprised by him in his “Carnival of the Animals”, where the sound represented fossils (presumably not dancing).
The concert xylophone, though not by any means a toy, is relatively easy to learn; it is therefore very popular with kids and in schools.
Yamaha offer a range of xylophones including the YX-500R, which has with bars made of Honduran rosewood (a material famed for its beautiful acoustic properties). We have models with Padouk wood bars; these offer a balance between tone and affordability and are especially suitable for beginners.
We have in our range the YX-500F ‘Acoustalon’, the bars of which are made of a special material engineered to have similar tonal properties to rosewood; however the material is also resistant to changes in temperature and humidity and so is particularly suited to heavy usage and the school environment.