Xylophone: The Original Dance Band Instrument
About the Xylophone
- The xylophone has thick, hardwood bars to create
a sharp, short, crisp notes. Many are
made of hardwood, but some are constructed from other woods including maple and
bamboo. Each wood gives it a different
- The bars of the xylophone are laid out in the
pattern of the piano. The length of the
bars determines the pitch; shorter bars are higher, longer bars are lower.
- Beneath the bars are resonator tubes to amplify
- Mallets are used to strike the bars. Mallets can be made of a variety of materials
including rubber, wood or metal.
More Fun Facts
- The bright, lively sound of the xylophone fit well with the syncopated dance music of the 1920s and 1930s making it one of the original dance band instruments.
- The sound of clanking bones is often made by the xylophone, making it an important instrument in Halloween movies.
- Vaudeville acts between 1910-1940 used the xylophone in their bands.
- Harrigan and Hart’s comedy duo used the xylophone on Broadway and may have led to the popularity of the xylophone in American musicals today.
- Jazz musicians often used the xylophone in their bands until the 1940s when vibraphone gained popularity.
- In Senegal, xylophones were used to scare birds, monkeys and other pests from the gardens.
- Ragtime music in the 1970s used xylophone.
- Xylophone comes from the Greek words xylon meaning “wood” and phone meaning “sound.”