Celesta or ‘Celeste’
The celesta is like a grown-up glockenspiel with a keyboard. It works mechanically, so that when you press keys little felt-covered hammers come up and hit steel bars.
Because the hitting is done mechanically, it’s easier than a glockenspiel to play chords – and to play fast! There’s a foot-pedal to control the dampers. These stop the steel bars vibrating, so the notes don’t last as long as they would otherwise.
The celesta is a keyboard instrument but it doesn’t need tuning like the piano. That’s because it doesn’t have strings inside.
To play it
You play it like a piano: it’s usually played by a pianist.
The celesta makes a sweet, fairylike tinkling sound.
Do You Know?
See if you can answer the questions below!
● What else is a celesta called?
● Which of these does a celesta have?
● Which of these instruments does it sound like most?
● Who would be most likely to play a celesta?
● A celesta is…
Play More Music!
Here is more music to listen to. Click the + to see tracks and information about each work!
Selected Celesta Extracts
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Act II. The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy (extract)
The sweet and delicate celesta is perfect for depicting the dancing sugar-plum fairy in the Land of Sweets.
Performers: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ondrej Lenárd
Taken from Naxos 8.550515