Xylophone vs Glockenspiel: Difference and Comparison

Both Xylophone and Glockenspiel are percussion instruments containing tuned bars or keys. They are often considered the same thing by ordinary people. But as professionals will notice, they are vastly different from each other.


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Key Takeaways

  1. “Xylophone” is a percussion instrument with wooden bars, while “Glockenspiel” is a percussion instrument with metal bars.
  2. “Xylophone” has a higher pitch and brighter sound, whereas “Glockenspiel” has a lower pitch and a softer sound.
  3. “Xylophone” is commonly used in orchestras and bands, while “Glockenspiel” is used in various musical genres, including pop, rock, and electronic music.

Xylophone vs Glockenspiel

Xylophone is a musical tool which musicians use, it produces sound with its wooden bars anchored on a stand and felt. Small Wooden hammers are used to strike the bars to make music. Glockenspiel is the same thing as a xylophone, it is constructed with steel bars and produces a penetrating sound. It is also referred to as metallophone.

Xylophone vs Glockenspiel

The xylophone can be anywhere from three octaves to four octaves. The most popular and common one is the xylophone, which has 3.5 octaves.

The Glockenspiel is examined, and observed that it has a higher pitch than the xylophone due to its metallic nature. The Glockenspiel generally has an octave ranging between 2.5-3 octaves. The Glockenspiel, when played, sounds two-pitch higher than the written music notes.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonXylophoneGlockenspiel
Place of OriginAfricaGermany
Made ofWoodMetal
Range of Octaves 3-42.5-3
SizeNormal (neither too big nor too small)Smaller than Xylophone
Estimated time of origin9th Century17th Century

What is Xylophone?

The root of the xylophone can be traced back to ancient Africa, around the 9th century. The earliest recorded description of the xylophone can be traced back to the 14th century in Mali, Africa.

Some of the xylophones have simple bars of wood that do not have any resonators, while a few have highly complex xylophones that are confined, and they also may have hollowed gourds that operate as resonators.

The wooden bars of the Xylophone are made up of Rosewood. The rosewoods which are used to manufacture the latter also have several types. The xylophone, made up of rosewood from Honduras, is considered to have the best quality sound.

The sound a xylophone produces is a high-pitched one, which is a short and sharp sound. The instrument can have any range between 3-4 octaves. The most type is the one that has an octave of 3.5. 

Because of the nature of the sound, the instrument produces a pitch one octave higher than the written music notes.

What is Glockenspiel?

The glockenspiel is a percussion instrument comprising a synchronized set of harmonized keys orchestrated by the keyboard of a piano. It is sometimes also called Metallophone as the device is made of metal.

As the name suggests, Glockenspiel means “a set of bells,” as “Glocken” means “Bells” and “Spiel” means “Set.” The other instrument names are Carillon, Concert bells, and orchestral bells.

The sound produced by the instrument is very high-pitched. This depends on the factors like the small size and the material used to manufacture the latter, i.e., metal.

The glockenspiel was first made and used in the churches of Germany and was used as a set of fixed bells by hand. In or around the 17th century, the bells were then replaced by steel or metal bars.

The glockenspiel has an octave ranging between 2.5-3. Because of the nature of materials used for the instrument’s production, the sound produced by it is two-pitch higher than that of the original pitch level.


Main Differences Between Xylophone and Glockenspiel

  1. The size of the Xylophone is neither too big nor too small, and when Glockenspiel is compared to the latter, it is a smaller-sized instrument.
  2. The estimated time of origin of the Xylophone can be traced back to the 14th Century, whereas the time of origin of the Glockenspiel is the 17th Century.
Difference Between Xylophone and Glockenspiel
  1. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.418117
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/df3715958fc77da8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2558
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