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What is Marimba?




Marimba Photo (Yamaha 5000)MarimbaOrigin of Marimba is not known, but it seems it started off as wooden bars laid over a hole on the ground which was struck with sticks. In the myth of Zulus (of South Africa), there is a tale about a goddess called "Marimba" who made an instrument by hanging gourds below wooden bars. It sometimes is referred to as the source of the name of the instrument.

Marimba, which was born in South Africa, was brought to South America in the early 16th century by the Africans who were taken there as slaves(*). There, a Guatemalan called Sebastian Hurtado made a Marimba with a wooden resonator pipe instead of gourd. This formed the basis of the modern marimba.

Marimba, which was improved in South America was brought to the United States eventually, and they started to make marimba around 1910. Deagan of Chicago changed the wooden pipe to the metal pipe. Numerous other improvements were made since then including the rearrangement of the keytop to resemble the piano. Modern Marimba is now treated not only as an orchestra instrument but also as a solo instrument thanks to the louder sound achieved by the pipe.

The modern instrument usually has rose wood keyboard with brass pipe resonators. Range differs from an instrument to another, but 4+1/2 to 5 octaves ones are most popular. Major makers of modern marimba includes Musser, Yamaha, Korogi, Saito, Marimba One, Malletech etc.



For the Scientific Aspects of of its Construction and Performance of the Marimba, click here .
Bibliography

* Yamaha Musical Zoo
* Historia de la Marimba
* The Marimba, Scientific Aspects of of its Construction and Performance

(*) There are opinions that marimba was independently invented at various places like Thailand, Indonesia and Amazon. Refer to such document like http://www.quetzalnet.com/marimba/historia_de__la_marimba.html


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