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Most orchestral glockenspiels are mounted in a case.

A glockenspiel [German Glocken (bells) + spielen (to play)] is a percussion instrument, composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal, thus making it a metallophone. The glockenspiel, moreover, is usually smaller and higher in pitch.

In the German language, 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, generally with heads made of plastic or metal, are used to strike the bars, although mallet heads can also be made of rubber. 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 the glockenspiel 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.

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 Indonesianmarker gamelan ensembles.


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