Xylophones are sets of objects (generally bars -steel in my case) of varying lengths that accordingly produce varying pitches (longer=lower).

youtube playlist of anarchestra xylophones

The primary decisions a xylophone builder is presented with are about selecting and ordering the pitches and what degree of muting or sustain is desired.

The mathematics of xylophones is pretty simple.

If a given length produces a tone (say D)

a bar .9715 of that length will produce a tone a chromatic step higher (say D-sharp)

a bar 1.0293 of that length will produce a tone a chromatic step lower (say D-flat)

assuming the bars of the same thickness and width.  Thicker bars produce higher pitches.

To mount the bar without deadening it the ideal place (called the node) is 22% in from each end of the bar.

The timbre of the bar is largely determined by the performer’s choice of striker —a softer mallet produces a slower attack and stronger low overtones and a harder one will produce a faster attack and stopnger high overtones.

Some Anarchestra xylophones:

pig 00 chilmark

Pig 00 Chilmark

Chromatic, low to high left to right, 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ bars

kyzyl kum 02 chilmark

Kyzyl Kum 02 Chilmark

Chromatic, high to low left to right, 1/8″ x 1 1/2″ bars.

An octave lower than Pig.

sir gamelan 01 chilmark

Sir Gamelan  01 Chilmark

A tongue drum with 3/16 plate

bootzilla 06 santa fe

Bootzilla 06 Santa Fe

Random order 1/8″ x 1/2″ bars

bootz 08 tucson.jpg

Bootz 08 Tucson

Chromatic, low to high, (seen from side) front to back, 1/8″ x 3/4″ bars

kresge 10 tucson.jpg

Kresge 10 Tucson

Chromatic, low to high, high to low, high to low, low to high front to back, 3//16″ x  1″ bars

X why? 11 tucson

X-why?  11 Tucson

Diatonic, ordered in thirds, 1/8″ x 1″ bars

louie trey 12 tucson

Louie Trey  12 Tucson

Chromatic, grouped in threes root-fifth-octave, minor thirds front to back, chromatic steps side to side, 1/8″ 3/16″ 1/4″ x 1″ bars

gamagam 12 tucson.JPG

Gamagang  12 Tucson

Chromatic, made from 7″ steel steps

forky 14 tucson

Forky  14 Tucson

Diatonic, low to high front to back, minor thirds left to right, 1/8″ 3/16″ 1/4″ x 1/2″ bars

chewbewler 15 tucson.JPG

Chewbewler 16 Tucson

Chromatic, random order 16ga x 1″ tubes



Reboot  17 Tucson

Bass xylophone with 8 keys than can be replaced and ordered in different ways.


Bith  17 Tucson

3/4 by 1/2 inch bars allow different pitches or both to be played.


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