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The marimba (About this sound pronunciation ) (also: Marimbaphone) is a musical instrument in the percussion family. Keys or bars (usually made of wood) are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys (similar to a piano) to aid the performer both visually and physically.

The chromatic marimba was developed in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala [1] from the diatonic marimba, an instrument whose ancestor was a type of balafon that African slaves built in Central America.

Modern uses of the marimba include solo performances, woodwind ensembles, marimba concertos, jazz ensembles, marching band (front ensembles), drum and bugle corps, and orchestral compositions. Contemporary composers have utilized the unique sound of the marimba more and more in recent years.


Bars key

The marimba bars, like xylophone keys, are usually made of rosewood, but bars can also be made of padouk or various synthetic materials. The specific Rosewood used universally is from Honduras, Dalbergia stevensonii. This wood has a Janka rating of 2200, which is about three times harder than Silver Maple. Wood bars are preferred for concert playing, but synthetic are preferred for marching band and other outdoor use because they are more durable and less susceptible to pitch change due to weather. The bars are wider and longer at the lowest pitched notes, and gradually get narrower and shorter as the notes get higher. During the tuning, wood is taken from the middle underside of the bar to lower the pitch. Because of this, the bars are also thinner in the lowest pitch register and thicker in the highest pitch register.

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