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Difference between Xylophone and Glockenspiel

Difference between Xylophone and Glockenspiel

The xylophone and glockenspiel are both percussion instruments that produce sound by striking metal bars with mallets. While they may look similar, there are some distinct differences between these two instruments. The xylophone has a mellower tone than the glockenspiel, which is brighter and more pronounced. The xylophone also has a larger range of notes, while the glockenspiel is limited to just three octaves. Additionally, the xylophone is typically played with two mallets, while the glockenspiel is played with one.

What is a Xylophone?

  • A xylophone is a percussion instrument that consists of a series of wooden bars of different sizes that are struck with mallets. The xylophone is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, and it has been used in a variety of musical traditions around the world. The instrument’s name comes from the Greek words for “wood” (xylon) and “sound” (phonos). Xylophones typically have a range of two octaves, though larger instruments can extend up to four octaves. The bars of a xylophone are arranged in a chromatic scale, which means that they are tuned to produce a range of notes that ascend or descend in pitch in a regular sequence. Each bar is tuned to a specific pitch, and the pitch of the bar determines its place in the chromatic scale.
  • The xylophone is played by holding one or two mallets in each hand and striking the bars with them. The player can produce different sounds by striking the bars in different ways, such as with the hard center of the mallet for a loud sound or near the edge for a softer sound. The xylophone can be played solo or as part of an ensemble.

What is Glockenspiel?

The glockenspiel is a musical instrument that is played by striking a series of tuned keys with mallets. It is usually made of metal, wood, or plastic and has a range of two to four octaves. Glockenspiels are best known for their use in orchestras and marching bands, where they add a bright, ringing sound. They are also popular in school music programs, as they are relatively small and easy to learn to play. Unlike many other orchestral instruments, the glockenspiel does not have a resonating chamber, which gives it a clearer and more concise sound. The name “glockenspiel” comes from the German word for “bells” (Glocken) and the Greek word for “play” (Spielen).

Difference between Xylophone and Glockenspiel

  • Xylophone and Glockenspiel both belong to the percussion family of musical instruments. Both instruments produce sound by striking a tuning fork with a mallet. The major difference between the xylophone and glockenspiel is that the xylophone is made of wooden bars whereas the glockenspiel is made of metal bars.
  • Xylophone produces softer and mellower sound as compared to glockenspiel due to the difference in the material of construction. Xylophones are usually larger in size than glockenspiels. Xylophones have a range of 4 octaves whereas the range for glockenspiels is 3 octaves.
  • A xylophone is a part of almost all the orchestral music whereas glockenspiel has very limited usage in the modern music industry. Glockenspiels were earlier used as a part of tower clockwork or as an automatic player piano.
  • Glockenspiels are now mostly used in marching bands and drum corps along with other instruments like tubular bells, cymbals, etc.


The xylophone and glockenspiel are both percussion instruments that produce sound when a mallet is hit against the instrument’s keys. However, there are several differences between these two instruments. The glockenspiel has a brighter tone than the xylophone, and it also has a higher pitch. Glockenspiels are often used in orchestral settings, while xylophones are more commonly found in marching bands or other types of ensembles.

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