Technique Tuesday: More Bells (No Whistles)

vibraphone glockenspiel xylophone

Adding on to last week’s post, there are a few other types of bells to go over.

The Vibraphone:

Vibraphones look similar to marimbas, but they generally have aluminum bars and a pedal. The pedal is a lot like the pedal on a piano; it sustains the note after it’s hit. There’s also a motor on the instrument that powers revolving metal pieces on the resonators that create a vibrato sound (hence the “vibra”phone)…it’s really cool. The mallets used for a vibraphone are similar to marimba mallets, as they’re also wrapped in yarn, but these are slightly harder in the middle.

The Concert Bells (or Glockenspiel):

The concert bells are the most distinct of the group, in my opinion. The bars are metal, usually gold or silver in color, with some sort of small frame attached. They are very piercing and are used in orchestras and other concert groups often. Mallets for this would be plastic or brass. Tegan & Sara sometimes use one for “Back in Your Head.

The Xylophone:

The xylophone looks just like the marimba; wooden bars, similar frame, no pedal. The main differences are the mallets used and the bar size. For this instrument, you’d use hard plastic mallets (as seen in the corner of the picture.) The difference in the bars is the width. On the marimba, the bars gradually get wider from right to left. The same thing happens (usually) with the vibraphone. The xylophone and the glockenspiel are not like this. For an example of the xylophone sound, think circus music.


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