Difference between Xylophone and Marimba

Xylophone vs. Marimba

What is difference between Xylophone and Marimba? The xylophone and the marimba are instruments that belong to the family of percussion instruments. However, the difference ends here. Its origins, bars and eighths are very different. Despite these differences and also to know them, both have secured an honorable position in a symphony orchestra.

Difference between Xylophone and Marimba

The origins of the xylophone can be traced back to ancient Africa; the earliest record of a xylophone is from around the 14th century in Mali, Africa. There were several types of xylophones, some of simple wooden bars without any resonance and some very complete ones that are framed and have functions to function as resonators. The marimba is originally from Germany where the churches used a group of manual bells. The bells were replaced by steel bars around the 17th century. Later, the steel bars were an integral part of the marimba.

The biggest difference between the xylophone and the marimba is that the xylophone bars are made of wood while the bars of the marimba are made of steel hence their names. The wooden bars of the xylophone are usually made of rose sticks from Honduras. The xylophones made of rosewood from Honduras are the ones that produce the best sound. The xylophone is considered to have a high pitch sound that is sharp and small and the marimba is considered to have a higher pitch than the xylophone, this due to its metallic nature.

The xylophone can be anywhere from three to four eighths, the most common and popular being the 3.5 octavo version. The marimba is usually between 2.5 to 3 eighths. The marimba is written two eighths smaller than most of the current musical notes while the xylophone is always a pitch higher than what is written in the notes. With respect to size, the marimba is much smaller than the xylophone.

In Summary:

  1. As the name suggests, the xylophone bars are made of wood while the bars of the marimba are made of steel.
  2. The xylophone originated in Africa and the marimba comes from Germany.
  3. The marimba has a higher pitch than the xylophone.
  4. The xylophone has a range of 3-4 eighths while the marimba has a range of 2.5 to 3 eighths.
  5. The marimba will sound two pitches higher due to its musical notes written always two eighths lower than the marimba. On the other hand, the xylophone will sound a pitch higher than what is written in the mescal notes.
  6. The marimba is smaller in size compared to the xylophone.