Topic: Xylophone range  (Read 4668 times)

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Offline Christopher Stroh

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Xylophone range
« on: March 19, 2011, 12:20 AM »
I have a question for the xylophone players out there.  What range is your instrument, and are you happy with it?  I've been shopping around for my first xylophone, and I want to know if getting all 3 1/2 octaves is worth the extra cost.  If you only have 3, do you have to shift octaves very often?  How about the 2 1/2 instruments, does it get too crowded in there?  Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Xylophone range
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2011, 10:34 AM »
I would personally recommend the 3-1/2 octave xylophone, but it really depends on what your plans are as a musician. Is this for orchestral, symphonic or pit-work? If size isn't an issue, save up for the 3-1/2 octave instrument.

I'm one of those people that desires flexibility and versatility. I'd rather have more than what I actually need, and never have to worry about shifting octaves (for the most part).

Also, if you don't have a marimba, the 3-1/2 xylophone will allow you to practice a lot of the marimba compositions. Sure, you may not want to perform marimba works on a xylophone, especially since the tuning is an octave higher than a marimba, but if the xylophone is your only mallet instrument, go with bigger ... if you can. I purchased an Deagan c.1908 4-octave xylophone for this very reason ... since I didn't own a marimba.

The 2-1/2 octave xylophones have been a real source of frustration with me over the years. They remind of back when I was in marching band 30+ years ago; back when we had to physically carry the mallet instruments. Using those instruments for anything other than music specifically written or arranged for them typically caused me problems. Even when using the 2-1/2 octave xylophone for teaching younger students... they are great for awhile, but I always seemed to hit a roadblock at some point. Having a young student shifting octaves to overcome the instrument's limitations can be quite confusing.

Truth be told, having to make sacrifices in the music due to instrument limitations is something many brass, woodwind and string instrumentalists deal with as well... so it's not unrealistic for percussionists to experience the same thing (eg. timpani). However, if at all possible, go with the bigger instrument, assuming, of course, that the larger footprint/size of the instrument doesn't conflict with your goals are personal plans for use... and fits your budget.

Offline JustAHobby

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Re: Xylophone range
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2011, 02:29 PM »
I think it really depends on what you are planning to do with it, as Bart mentioned.  I have an old Deagan Drummers Special with extended legs so I can play it standing up.  It was designed to be a pit instrument so it is small.  It is 3 octaves and it has always been enough for me.  But, I don't do a lot of xylophone solo stuff.  I think most of the Green stuff will work on a three octave but I would have to check to be sure.

I agree with Bart that if it is your only mallet instrument, you should get the largest one you can afford and have the space for.  Space was a consideration for me when I purchased my xylophone.

Another thing you may want to consider is where are you planning to go with mallet percussion.  If you think you will only have a xylophone then I would suggest a larger instrument.  If you think you will be purchasing a marimba in the not so distant future you may consider a smaller instrument.  I would not go with 2.5 octaves unless it was all I could afford.

My final suggestion is do some research on the music you would like to play and see what size instrument is required.  If there are several pieces of music you really want to play that requires 3.5 octaves then I wouldn't get a smaller isntrument.

Good Luck.

Offline Eric Pancer

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Re: Xylophone range
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 03:11 PM »
My Deagan 870 is 3.5 octaves and considered an orchestral standard. If you can, go for 4 octaves. I only use my 3 octave instrument in pit situations (the musical/opera kind, not the outdoor marching band situations).


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