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Glockenspiel being played at Kansai regionals

Mallet Percussion (マレットパーカッション Marettopākasshon) is a subfamily of percussion instruments who share several common themes, the most notable of which is the way they produce sound: being struck with a mallet. Someone who plays mallet percussion instruments is called a mallet percussionist or simply a mallet percussion player.

Though the terms are frequently confused, pitched percussion does not inherently mean mallet percussion. Additionally, just because an instrument uses a percussion mallet does not make it a mallet percussion instrument, like the timpani for example.

Construction[]

The most basic and standard construction of a mallet percussion instrument is a set of idiophones arranged like a keyboard. These idiophones can vary in size, shape, and material, from the wooden bars of a xylophone, to the metal tubes of chimes, and the round disks of crotales. They are also mounted on a frame of sorts that accommodates the needs of the instrument.

Variants[]

In western music, there are 6 main types of mallet percussion instruments.

Xylophone[]

The xylophone consists of a set of wooden bars that are struck with a hard, acrylic mallet. It has a sharp, crisp tone.

Marimba[]

The marimba, like the xylophone, consists of a set of wooden bars. The two differ in that marimbas are much larger, and use yarn mallets. It has a warm, rich tone compared to the xylophone.

Glockenspiel/Bells[]

The glockenspiel, also commonly called bells is a metallophone, consisting of a set of small metal bars, struck with hard, often metal mallets. It is quite high pitched and produces a sweet, yet piercing tone.

Vibraphone[]

The vibraphone is a metallophone, consisting of a set of metal bars ranging in size, struck with mid-soft yarn mallets. The instrument has plenty of additional features including pedals and a motor. It has a mellow tone.

Tubular Bells/Chimes[]

The tubular bells, also commonly called chimes is a unique mallet percussion instrument. It consists of a set of large metal tubes arranged like a piano, suspended vertically along its frame. It is quite loud and is often used to add color to pieces.

Crotales[]

Crotales, sometimes called antique cymbals are small percussion instruments consisting of disks of an average 10 cm (4") in diameter. They usually come in chromatic sets which are played by striking with a mallet, or by striking two individual crotales together. It is a transposing instrument pitched in C, reading music two octaves below sounding. They are often used in orchestras and concert bands. They have a very bright, piercing tone. Crotales are often criticized for being out of tune, and since they cannot be retuned, the bells in question either have to be replaced, or the ensemble must tune to them.

As portrayed in Hibike! Euphonium[]

Saki Kayama playing xylophone at Kansai regionals

Gallery[]

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