A general comment about writing for percussion:

Marimba: description

Wooden
bars suspended over resonators.
Panshots
The marimba:
The keyboard:
The low resonators:
The mid resonators:
The high resonators:
Characteristics
Ranges of marimbas:
The low register:
Middle and upper registers:

Marimba: beaters

Use soft mallets on marimba. Do NOT use xylophone beaters.

Marimba mallets:
Rolls:
Using multiple sticks:
Different sticks in different registers:

Marimba: view

The size of the instrument:
Notating marimba music:
Good marimba writing:

Marimba: listen

Low note - hard mallet
Low note - soft mallet
Mid range note - hard mallet
Mid range note - soft mallet
Top note
Glissando up
Glissando down
A passage with hard beaters in the top register
A passage with middle beaters in the middle register
A passage with soft beaters in the lower register



Xylophone: description

A soprano marimba, with harder wooden bars suspended over resonators
A panshot along the xylophone:
History of the xylophone:
Range of the xylophone:
Character of the xylophone:

Xylophone: beaters

Various mallets:

Xylophone: view


Notating xylophone music:

Xylophone: listen

Saint-Saens: 'Fossiles' from 'Le Carnival des Animaux'

The same tune, unaccompanied:
Low register
Mid register
High register

Arpeggio, loud, ascending
Arpeggio, loud, descending
Arpeggio, quiet, ascending
Arpeggio, quiet, descending

'White note' glissando, up
'White note' glissando, down
'Black note' glissando, down
'Black note' glissando, up (and over!)

A roll

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at] bathspa.ac.uk