Chasing Knowledge #3

The Marimba

The expression of human thoughts, feelings, ideas or emotions through sounds. Music has been a part of humanity for a very, very long time. Music is a transport of ideas and aspects from one person to another, similar to books. What defines music varies from person to person. It could be a bird chirping whilst water falling, a saxophone solo, a rock band, or conga beats.

But what I’m focusing going to focus on today is a specific instrument in the percussion section, the marimba.

Below each key there are tubes called resonators that resonate the sound and makes the instrument sound purer. Marimbas can sound different depend on the resonators, the type of wood, and the type of mallets used. To play the instrument, you use mallets designed for the instrument, called marimba mallets. The mallets are quite long and have a yarn wrapped core at the end.

The marimba is an instrument you put on a stand, and play standing up. You hold the mallets like you would hold drum sticks, with slightly more ease. Since you only have two mallets, there is a limitation to the amount of notes you can hit at once and sounds you can play, but if you practice enough, then you can play anything you find sounds nice. Also, there is a more advanced technique where you hold two mallets in each hand. The difficulty of this is higher, and it’ll hurt your hands when you first start, but you can play so much more advanced pieces.

Fun Facts

– Marimbas were first known as diatonic xylophones, and were first made and used in west and central Africa.

– The diatonic xylophones were introduced somewhere in the 16th-17th century.

– The gourd resonators were later replaced by harmonic wooden boxes for some of the instruments. Variants with slats made of steel, glass or bamboo instead of wood appeared during the 19th century.

-The marimba is an instrument consisting of wooden bars set up like a piano. You have the lower keys, going note C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and repeats. And the higher keys are the sharps and flats.

– One legend regarding the origins of the marimba comes from South Africa. A Zulu myth contends that a goddess with the name of “Marimba” created the instrument.

– There have been many great marimba players over the years. Some have gotten famous due to their skills or music. Some who have gained international recognition as marimba players include, Nancy Zeltsman, Robert van Sice, Robert Patterson and Evelyn Glennie.

– Marimbas can be used in many types of music and bands, depending on what the musician wants the song to sound like.

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Marimba Mallets


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