Glockenspiel vs. Xylophone

Difference Between Glockenspiel and Xylophone To most people, glockenspiels and Xylophones are the same thing. Both are percussion…

Difference Between Glockenspiel and Xylophone

To most people, glockenspiels and Xylophones are the same thing. Both are percussion instruments and look almost exactly the same. However, a close examination of the instruments themselves and their backgrounds reveal their vast differences.

It was in Germany where the Glockenspiel originated in the 17th century. It’s made up of metal bars arranged according to the different tunes they play. The Glockenspiel sits horizontally with its bars arranged in similar manner to the keys of a piano. Its case also serves as the resonator; therefore, it no longer needs any amplifiers to enhance sound. The Glockenspiel’s sound range usually sits between 2 ½ to 3 octaves.

The xylophone’s origins, however has been the topic of many debates. Some claim that it originated in Asia while others say it’s from Africa. Usually, Xylophones are made up of wooden bars, varying in lengths and usually arranged side by side according to their varying sizes. The sound it produces ranges between 3 and 4 octaves, often sounding one pitch higher than its original note.

Differentiating Between the Two

One major difference between the Glockenspiel and the Xylophone is their bar composition. Glockenspiel makes use of metal bars compared to the wooden bars of the Xylophone. They also produce sounds that greatly differ from one another, the Glockenspiel sounding like a bell, while the Xylophone producing short, sharp and high pitched sounds. Since they don’t sound the same, it must also follow that they should be used in different musical performances.  Different mallets are also each of the two. A hard mallet made form metal for Glockenspiels while rubber and plastic mallets for Xylophones.

Still, both instruments make excellent music, adding complement to the tune and melody of any musical ensemble. Their differences, rather than becoming an obstacle, highlight their capability to produce quality music.

To summarize:

  • The Glockenspiel originally came from Germany and is made up of metal bars. Its sound ranges from 2 ½ to 3 octaves.
  • A Xylophone is usually made up of wooden bars varying in lengths. It produces a sound that ranges from 3 to 4 octaves and sounds one pitch higher than its original note.


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