Xylophone - Madagascar, Bali

Purchased in Madagascar, June 1963

This xylophone has thirteen decorated bamboo bars. The bamboo bars are attached to a bamboo cut away to make the pitches and are fairly well tuned. I bought it in Madagascar in June 1963. It was a bit awkward to carry home because of its size and shape. But, I had to have it. That is always my excuse for buying an instrument.

Purchased in Bali, 1968


This xylophone is a musical instrument comprising a series of wooden bars processed to sound musical tones when struck with wooden hammers. The bars are set on a frame and come in many different sizes. In this case the bars are made of bamboo and its eleven bars are not tuned to the diatonic scale. The tuning is undoubtedly set to be able to play the native music of Bali. I bought it in the island of Bali during a Christmas Tour in 1968.

From Graciela's Notes

Xylophone – The name comes from the Greek word, wood sound; the German word, Xylophon. It is a percussion instrument with hardwood bars arranged and tuned. The keys/bars are fastened horizontally to two stretched boards and played with two or more sticks or mallets. Predecessors of the modern xylophone are found in many parts of the world, consisting of a few wooden bars, or other materials such as bamboo, of different length producing different tones. In the beginning they were usually laid out on straw, and therefore became known among explorers as Strohfiedel (German word meaning straw fiddle.) The early xylophone reached its development height in Southeast Asia in the 14th century. The instrument had spread westward into Africa and then to the Americas. It arrived in Europe by the 16th century. Gradually assuming its modern form, the European-American xylophone was imported into Latin America and Africa and became domesticated there as a kind of pianos with wooden keys. The classical composer, Saint-Saens, used the xylophone to great effect in his Danse Macabre to suggest the bone rattling of disembodied ghosts. In the 20th century the instrument’s use of straw finally gave way to a notch system to support the keys. Many composers of the 20th century included the xylophone in their symphony scores, including the Sabre Dance from by Khachaturian.

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