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date: 14 November 2018


The Oxford Dictionary of Music
Tim Rutherford-JohnsonTim Rutherford-Johnson

Michael Kennedy,

Joyce Bourne Kennedy


Latin‐American percussion instrument of African origin. It consists of strips of wood of different length with (tuned) resonators underneath, the whole fixed in a frame and struck with drum‐sticks—in fact, a super‐xylophone large enough for perf by 4 players (or marimberos), standing or sitting side by side. Now made with bars of rosewood and tubular metal resonators which are struck with soft‐headed hammers held by the player(s). Grainger scored for the marimba in the suite In a Nutshell before 1916. Milhaud wrote a conc. for marimba and vibraphone (1947) and Creston a conc. for marimba (1940). It now frequently occurs in orch works.

The S. African original, known to Afrikaans‐speaking Europeans as the kaffir piano, is called the malimba by natives.