The Xylophone is not a musical instrument that you see very often these days is it. It’s one of those instruments that has pretty much disappeared into obscurity.
While you see rock bands and even country musicians sometimes use unusual instruments like steel drums for example, nobody seems to want to use the poor old Xylophone.
I remember when I was growing up, most young children had a toy one, which really was pretty useless when it came to playing a tune, but occasionally on television a variety show would present someone who could play the Xylophone and who was just amazing to watch.
Now while you can still get those puny ones for tiny children, which still sound awful and just make “clunking” noises rather than real musical notes, that is about the closest that many people will get to actually hearing a real Xylophone being played.
The Xylophones that you would see on television were also a far cry from a toy ones. Some of them had numerous scales on them, and occasionally you would even get two people playing them as well.
The video below is an example of what can be achieved by a good Xylophone player.
Another version of a Xylophone is the Marimba, and Marimba music is popular in Central America, in particular Guatemala.
I had the privilege in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to make a few trips to Guatemala on business, and at the weekend was fortunate enough to visit the market town of Chichicastenango and also the old colonial capital of Antigua.
In both of these places, and probably many more in Guatemala, on a Sunday afternoon, you can sit in the courtyard of an old colonial style hotel, and listen to a tradional Marimba band playing, like the one in this video below.
Although you might not be too eager to play a CD of something like this at home on a sunny afternoon, it’s really great to just sit back and drink a Gallo (local beer) while listening to a group of talented musicians playing this amazing instrument, that has it’s origins in Africa.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about this interesting instrument. I only wish I could find my photographs and video that I took on my visits to Guatemala.