The modern xylophone is usually a four octave mallet percussion instrument with wooden bars of the same width. It produces short, pitched sounds when struck with mallets that are at least moderately hard. Marimbas can reach lower registers than can a xylophone, and produce a smoother, more resonant sound. Other percussion instruments similar to a xylophone are the bells, chimes, and vibraphone.

An ancient instrument originating in Russia, which consisted of a series of tuned pieces of wood. The xylophone gets it name from the word elements xylo- and -phon. Xylo- refers to wood, as in xylem or xylograph, while -phon means voice or sound.

Xy"lo*phone (?), n. [Xylo- + Gr. fwnh` sound.]

1. Mus.

An instrument common among the Russians, Poles, and Tartars, consisting of a series of strips of wood or glass graduated in length to the musical scale, resting on belts of straw, and struck with two small hammers. Called in Germany strohfiedel, or straw fiddle.

2.

An instrument to determine the vibrative properties of different kinds of wood.

Knight.

 

© Webster 1913.

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