Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Xylophone and Marimba

xylophoneXylophone vs Marimba

If you did not pay close attention to your music teacher back when you’re still a student, it will be very hard for you to distinguish the difference between a xylophone and a marimba. Non-musicians will find it hard to tell even by just looking or listening to the instruments being played. However, if you are very watchful and keen enough, there are really a lot of obvious disparities between these two mallet musical instruments.

In terms of range, the xylophone and marimba differ to some extent. The xylophone has a range of 2-1/2 to 4 octaves. On the contrary, the marimba has a 3 to 5 octave range or greater for the newer ones. And because the 5th octave key is now commonly used in musical concerts, the newer marimbas have found its place in the music scene.

The material used to make both instruments are relatively the same. These mallet instruments make use of either the Honduras rosewood or other synthetic components. However, the marimba can sometimes use a Paduk ‘“ a type of wood that is seen to be cheaper than rosewood.

In terms of where or when the mallet instrument is used, the xylophone and the marimba also differ accordingly. Xylophones are commonly used during a band concert or a symphony orchestra. The latter is played often as a stand alone instrument or along with other percussions in a simple ensemble.

Firm rubber or plastic is used as a coating to the xylophone’s mallets, which along with its uniquely cut bars give the instrument a very sharp tone. Although the marimba can use the same wooden material as the xylophone, its bars are sliced in a different way. Along with a cord or yarn padded mallets, this instrument gives off a more mellow tone. The xylophone’s resonators are shorter, which extends about half of the entire frame. Conversely, the marimbas resonators are extending up to the frame’s base at the bottommost point.

Summary :
1. The xylophone has an octave range of 2-1/2 to 4 while the marimba usually has a 3 to 5 range.
2. Both the xylophone and marimba can be made of either rosewood or other synthetic materials while the marimba can be made of a Paduk wood.
3. The xylophone has shorter resonators and has a mallet coated or entirely made of rubber or plastic. The marimba has longer resonators with its mallet usually coated with a yarn or cord.
4. The xylophone is often used in concert bands and symphonies whereas the marimba is either used alone or in a small ensemble.
5. The xylophone emits a sharper tone whereas the marimba emits a mellow tone.


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