Pitch range

Marimba pitch range, courtesy of Hannah Whale

A marimba is a big, deeper-voiced xylophone.

To play it

As with the xylophone, you stand over it and strike the wooden bars with beaters, usually made of wood, plastic, rubber or latex.

The sound

The sound of the marimba is softer and more mellow than the sound of the xylophone. It sounds a bit exotic and tropical!

Do You Know?

Do You Know?

See if you can answer the questions below!

 What are the keys of a marimba usually made of?

a. Teak
b. Mahogany
c. Rosewood

 The marimba is…

a. An idiophone
b. An aerophone
c. A membranophone

 Where is a marimba found?

a. In a church
b. In most chamber music
c. In the percussion section

 Which instrument is the marimba most similar to?

a. Glockenspiel
b. Xylophone
c. Vibraphone

 How is the marimba’s sound different from the xylophone’s?

a. It’s mellower
b. It’s sharper
c. It’s bouncier

Play More Music!

Play More Music!

Here is more music to listen to. Click the + to see tracks and information about each work!

Selected Marimba Extracts

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin (b. 1932)
Carmen Suite: First Intermezzo (extract)

The marimba builds energy with its tune, which is answered by the rest of the orchestra.

Performers: Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra; Theodore Kuchar

Taken from Naxos 8.553038