AskDefine | Define glockenspiel

Dictionary Definition

glockenspiel n : a percussion instrument consisting of a set of graduated metal bars mounted on a frame and played with small hammers [syn: orchestral bells]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , IPA (US): /ˈɡlɑ.kn̩.ˌspil/, German: /ˈɡlɔk.n̩ˌʃpiːl/
  • Hyphenation: glock•en•spiel


from German Glockenspiel (lit., bells-play)


  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.


Extensive Definition

The glockenspiel (German, "set 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.
In Germany, a Carillon is also called a Glockenspiel.
The glockenspiel, moreover, is much smaller and higher in pitch. When used in a marching or military band, the bars are sometimes mounted in a portable case and held vertically. In orchestral use, the bars are mounted horizontally. A pair of hard mallets is 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 (although the part has most often been played with a celesta in modern times). 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 Indonesian gamelan ensembles.

External links

glockenspiel in Bulgarian: Глокеншпил
glockenspiel in Czech: Zvonkohra
glockenspiel in German: Lyra (Glockenspiel)
glockenspiel in Estonian: Kellamäng
glockenspiel in Spanish: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Basque: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in French: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Galician: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Italian: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Hebrew: גלוקנשפיל
glockenspiel in Dutch: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Japanese: グロッケンシュピール
glockenspiel in Norwegian: Klokkespill
glockenspiel in Polish: Dzwonki
glockenspiel in Portuguese: Metalofone
glockenspiel in Russian: Колокольчики
glockenspiel in Simple English: Glockenspiel
glockenspiel in Slovak: Zvonkohra
glockenspiel in Finnish: Kellopeli
glockenspiel in Swedish: Klockspel (slagverk)
glockenspiel in Ukrainian: Дзвіночки

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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