If you're not a percussionist, classifying and identifying instruments can be a real challenge. Let's be honest, even percussionists can sometimes have trouble telling similar instruments apart.
The xylophone is most commonly confused with the marimba, vibraphone, and orchestra bells (or glockenspiel). Other instruments that are similar to the xylophone include crotales, aluphone, and chimes (or tubular bells).
Many people will look at any keyboard percussion instrument and call it a xylophone. It's not uncommon for someone to call the glockenspiel a xylophone because they haven't been exposed to the differences between them.
So, today we are going to go through 8 instruments like xylophone, discussing what makes each instrument unique and how they differ from the xylophone.
Whether you are a percussionist or just trying to expand your musical knowledge, this guide will help you better understand these instruments and how they are used in music.
Let's get started!
1. The Marimba
The Marimba is one of the most well-known instruments like the xylophone and is often presented as a direct competitor.
Unlike the xylophone, which typically has wooden bars that are struck with mallets made of wood or plastic, the marimba's bars are made from synthetic materials such as fiberglass or aluminum.
The marimba is also played with mallets made of rubber or synthetic materials, as opposed to the wood or plastic used on a xylophone.
2. The Vibraphone
The vibraphone is another popular instrument like the xylophone, and is most commonly compared to instruments such as the glockenspiel and marimba.
Like the xylophone, the vibraphone has bars that are struck with mallets to produce a variety of sounds and tones.
But unlike the xylophone, the vibraphone's bars also utilize an internal motor to produce vibrations, which gives these instruments a unique sound compared to other percussion instruments.
3. Orchestra Bells (Glockenspiel)
The orchestra bell, also commonly referred to as a glockenspiel, is another instrument often compared to the xylophone.
Like the marimba and vibraphone, this instrument uses metal bars for its sound, but it is typically played with mallets made of wood rather than rubber, as is the case with the xylophone.
Like the xylophone, the glockenspiel can be found in a number of different music genres, including classical and jazz. It is also commonly used in film scores and other types of media to create a bright, melodic sound that evokes feelings of happiness or excitement.
Another instrument that is often confused with the xylophone is the crotale, a percussion instrument made up of tuned metal discs that are played using mallets or sticks.
Similar to the xylophone, it can be found in a number of different genres, including classical and jazz music.
However, the sounds produced by the crotale are typically higher in pitch than those of a xylophone. This is due to the fact that the sound is created by vibrating metal rather than striking mallet-struck wooden bars.
The aluphone is a keyboard percussion instrument that is played by striking the bars with mallets. It is similar to the xylophone and glockenspiel, but it uses aluminium bars instead of wood. Aluminium has a number of advantages as a material for musical instruments.
It is lightweight and resistant to changes in temperature and humidity, making it ideal for use in outdoor performances. In addition, aluminium produces a clear, ringing tone that is perfect for music that needs to be heard over long distances.
As a result, the aluphone is an ideal choice for marchin bands and other performers who need an instrument that can be easily carried and that will produce a strong, clear sound.
6. Chime Bars
There are two types of chime bars: wooden and metal. Wooden chime bars are made of a set of tuned bars suspended over a resonator box.
Metal chime bars are also made of a set of tuned bars suspended over a resonator box, but they are made of metal instead of wood. Both types of chime bars can be played with mallets, similar to instruments like the xylophone and glockenspiel.
Chime bars produce a clear, musical sound when struck, and are often used in music therapy or education. They can be used to play simple melodies, or to create complex polyphonic textures.
7. Steel Drums
The steel drum is unique among instruments like the xylophone, as it is generally played by striking metal bowls rather than wooden bars. However, much like the xylophone and other instruments in this family, the steel drum produces a bright, cheerful sound that is often used to evoke feelings of happiness or joy.
Steel drums are found in a number of different styles of music, from classical to pop and folk. And they are also commonly used in film scores, as the distinctive sound is perfect for conveying feelings of excitement or anticipation.
The celesta is a keyboard percussion instrument that is similar to the xylophone. It consists of a set of graduated steel plates that are struck with small hammers.
The celesta has a unique, bell-like tone that has made it a favorite among composers and performers. It is often used to add an ethereal quality to music. The celesta is a relatively new instrument, having been invented in the 19th century.
However, it has quickly become an essential part of the orchestra and can be found in pieces by composers such as Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Brahms.
All of the instruments above can be compared to the xylophone in one way or another. Whether it's in terms of their sound, the way they are played, or their role in different types of music, each of these instruments has something unique to offer.
So if you're looking for a bright and cheerful instrument that can add beauty and excitement to your music, then any of these instruments may be the perfect choice for you.