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[[File:|thumb|300px|Most orchestral glockenspiels are mounted in a case.]] [[File:|thumb|250px|Musician playing a bell lyre at front left; Sousaphone at behind right.]]

The glockenspiel (German, "set of bells" or "play-[of-]bells", also known as orchestra bells and, in its portable form, bell lira or bell lyre) is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It is similar to the xylophone, in that it has tuned bars laid out in a fashion resembling a piano keyboard. The xylophone's bars are wooden, while the glockenspiel's are metal, thus making it a metallophone. The glockenspiel, moreover, is much smaller and higher in pitch.

In Germany, a carillon is also called a Glockenspiel.

When used in a marching or military band, the bars are sometimes mounted in a portable case and held vertically, sometimes in a lyre-shaped frame. In orchestral use, the bars are mounted horizontally. A pair of hard unwrapped mallets, made of rubber, plastic, or metal, are generally used to strike the bars, although if laid out horizontally, a keyboard may be attached to the instrument to allow chords to be more easily played.

The glockenspiel's range is limited to the upper register, and usually covers about two and a half to three octaves. The glockenspiel is a transposing instrument; its parts are written two octaves below concert pitch. When struck, the bars give a very pure, bell-like sound.

Glockenspiels are still quite popular and appear in almost all genres of music ranging from hip hop to jazz.

One classical piece where such an instrument is used is Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. (this part, like many others, calls for a keyboard glockenspiel. The part is sometimes performed on a celesta, which, however, sounds quite different from the intended effect.) A modern example of the glockenspiel is Steve Reich's 1974 composition Drumming, in which the glockenspiel becomes a major instrument in the 3rd and 4th movements.[1]

Other instruments which work on the same struck-bar principle as the glockenspiel include the marimba and the vibraphone. There are also many glockenspiel-like instruments in Indonesian gamelan ensembles.


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External links

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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  • enPR: glŏkʹən-spēl', -shpēl', IPA (US): /ˈɡlɑ.kn̩.ˌspil/, German: /ˈɡlɔk.n̩ˌʃpiːl/
  • Hyphenation: glock‧en‧spiel


from German Glockenspiel (lit., bells-play)




glockenspiel (plural glockenspiels)

  1. a musical instrument of the percussion family of instruments, like the xylophone, it has tuned bars arranged like the keys on a piano, and is also smaller in size and higher in pitch.


Simple English

The glockenspiel is a type of percussion instrument. It is in the same category of musical instruments as the xylophone and timpani. A Glockenspiel usually has a range of two and a half octaves. It is set up in a keyboard format, similar to the xylophone. Unlike the wooden xylophone, the glockenspiel is a metallophone. It is made of metal. The glockenspiel is played by hitting it with mallets with a plastic or felt tip. It has a soft sound, but it is very high pitch. If it is hit too hard, it makes a very bad sound. It is often used to represent things such as fairies, birds, and butterflies. The glockenspiel is from Germany.


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