Necessary Features of the Xylophone: A Unique Marching Instrument
Section 1: First Thing about Xylophones
Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) (2012a) stated that “xylophone” comes from Greek words xylon, which means wood, and phoné, which means sound.
Locating the exact place of their origin, these were known to have originated first in Asia. Reaching to Africa, it is in the west that these were fully embraced and used even until now. The rich culture of Western Africa includes the way people perceived them having a unique role in their society (Maxwell, n.d.). Eventually, they spread to all the other parts of the world. Many authors, philosophers, and musicians from Europe applied the name in their works. One European painting, renowned to have first portrayed the idea of these instruments, was by Hans Holbein in 1523, entitled Dance of Death. However, it was not later than nineteenth century that these were conceived as instruments for the orchestra (VSL, 2012a).
Historians have varied suggestions as to where xylophones originated; however, it all goes back to the idea of man’s tendency to grasp two unlikely objects, pounding them together, thus creating and producing sound. The idea may be associated to other percussions such as gongs and drums because apparently, according to VSL (2012b), xylophones belong to percussion family. Specifically, xylophones are clustered to a percussion group called “mallet” where other instruments like “vibraphone,” “celesta,” “marimba,” and “glockenspiel” also belong. ...