The xylophone and the glockenspiel are both instruments of the family of percussion musical instruments, but they both carry a difference in origin, octaves, and bars. However, despite the differences, both instruments have secured prestigious places in orchestral symphonies and have a prominent place in the world of music.



The xylophone is tracked back to the ancient Africa, where the instrument is believed to merge in the 14th century in Mali, Africa. The xylophone was made in different types, such as those with wooden bars and no resonators, or those with hollowed gourds and complex bars. The xylophone has wooden bars, and that is what mainly makes it different from a glockenspiel. “Xylos” in Germany is referred to as wood, and “phone” means sound. These wooden bars are made from light rosewood, Honduras rosewood, or paduak. The sound of a xylophone is high pitched and sharp. There are 3 to 4 octaves on a xylophone, with the most common being 3.5 octaves. It is written one octave higher than what is written in the musical notes. The mallet is a xylophone are made out of plastic or rubber, that produces a crisp sound upon striking of the bars. It is a very common musical instrument used in elementary musical education to assist in children’s musical development.


Difference Between Xylophone and Glockenspiel


The glockenspiel came about in Germany in churches during the 17th century, when the churches used  sets of fixed bells played by the hand. These bells were made into steel bars, and transformed into the idea of a glockenspiel. These steel bars are the integral part of the glockenspiel, and hence the name was set as “glock” in Germany is termed as bells, while “spiel” means set. The bars are made in the shape of tubes. It mainly sits horizontally, and the bars of the glockenspiel are aligned similar to that of a piano’s keyboard. There are certain glockenspiels that have bars mounted vertically as well. The glockenspiel has a higher pitch compared to a xylophone due to the metallic bars. There are 2.5 to 3 octaves on a glockenspiel. It is written two octaves lower than the actual musical notes. The glockenspiel is smaller in size than the xylophone. It serves as a resonator and so no additional sound amplifiers is required for the enhancement of the sound. The mallets of a glockenspiel are made out of plastic or metal, and are very hard to strike the bars and produce a sound like a bell.


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