The marimba, marimba also is a Aufschlagidiophon and belongs to the family of the xylophones with up to 5 2/3 octaves wide range of C to g4.

Not to be confused is the marimba with the Lamellophonen in Africa, which are known by the regional designations mbira, kalimba or Sansa.


Unlike a vibraphone with metal chimes, the wooden marimba tone bars, usually made of Honduras rosewood ( Dalbergia stevensonii ). These are arranged chromatically tuned as a keyboard in two rows. Under each wooden sound bar is attached to the intense sound radiation a vertical, consisting mostly of aluminum tuned pipe. The length of each cavity is sized to a quarter of the wavelength generated. The effective tube length is by a correction factor greater than the actual one. Since the wood tone plates are thinner and softer, the marimba sounds darker and fuller than a xylophone. To limit the radiation to the root, the cuboid usually 4.5 to 6 cm wide bar on the bottom is parabolic hollowed out and stored on its ground vibrational nodes. The length of the rods is inversely proportional to the square root of the fundamental resonance frequency. Tuning is done by grinding the rods, which can be tuned both higher and lower by decreasing the mass or stiffness.

The bass marimba used as resonators also bulbous cavities - so-called Helmholtz resonators. They can be used to reduce the overall height. For a sound G1 with a frequency of 49.5 Hz, a tube would have to be about 174 cm long. That would be unreasonable for a player.

The marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala. Living Marimbatraditionen now exist in ten Latin American countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and - already almost extinct - in Brazil. In Peru and French Guiana, where xylophones are substantiated by historical sources in past centuries, these have now disappeared. The same applies to Puerto Rico, where the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a 27 tone plates comprehensive diatonic instrument that came into his collection in the 19th century. From Cuba can be absence of clear documents previously not determine with certainty whether there is a relevant xylophone tradition ever existed there. The said every now and then Cuban marímbula is indeed sometimes referred to as marimba, however, is not a xylophone, but a lamellophones. In those States in which there is still a lively Marimbakultur, this is almost never present in the entire country, some traditions or types of instruments are often limited to certain areas and on certain ethnic groups. In Central America, in addition to the use Mestizos various indigenous groups marimbas, in South America, especially in Colombia and Ecuador, primarily African-American groups are the primary carriers of Marimbatradition, besides also indigenous groups to which the instrument was evident by cultural contact. In Brazil, the marimba is now used exclusively by the caiçara, a group that is not ethnically so clearly defined, but whose culture contains uniquely African elements.

Very common is the marimba in Japan. There are famous players and well-known music schools for the marimba. As the world's one of the most famous players of the Marimba Keiko Abe applies.

The mallets are rarely made ​​of rattan, rosewood or maple wood, plastic and usually have a wool closely gegarnten head. A player uses usually one or two mallets in each hand, rarely three mallets.


The marimba is from Africa. From the 16th century there are numerous written references and pictures of xylophones in Africa. The oldest reference - a report from the Arab traveler Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta on his visit to the Kingdom of Mali - dates from 1352, and thus from an era long before the transatlantic slave trade. The types of instruments that can be found in the early sources, are in the great majority frame xylophone with calabash resonators or spar Xylophone. Trough or pit xylophone dive on the other hand, little or at least until very late. In the Manuscritti Araldi, a resulting 1654-1678 Codex, which comes from the Italian missionary Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi and is now located in Modena, one of the musicians is called " Marimbero " what now, the oldest known use of the term " Marimba " in is associated with a xylophone.

In the focus of research interest, the marimba occurred only in the late 19th and early 20th century in the course of culture teaching. In an attempt to derive the moods of African instruments of Indonesian moods, so to prove the migration of the xylophone from Southeast Asia to Africa and thus the circular spread of cultures from an assumed center - the central element of culture teaching - demonstrate the marimba played a central role within this theory one - Albrecht Schneider speaks of the " xylophone as historical research resources ".

Today, frame, Holm, pits, legs and trough xylophone and loose tone bars found in Africa. The previously oldest known unequivocal evidence for the existence of a marimba in America can be found in the area of present-day Guatemala and dates from the year 1680. Springs, which are used by some authors for the detection of the former existence of xylophones, about La cristianización de los indios de Santa Lucía 1545 from Chiapas, in which a musical instrument called yolotli is mentioned, which could be after a xylophone of description, and a " pre-Columbian " Codex fragment from Guatemala are only in contentious copies, not the original before. For South America, the earliest evidence for Xylophone the 1722 published in Rome Scripture Gabinetto armonico the Jesuit Filippo Bonanni, in which a " Brasiliano Moro, in atto de sonar la Marimba " ( " Brazilian Mohr in the process of the marimba to play " ) to be found, and in watercolors, pen drawings, had given 1782-1787 commissioned by the Bishop of Trujillo, Baltazar Jaime Martínez de Compañón, including a presentation of " Negros tocando marimba y bailando " ( " marimba playing and dancing Black ").

Especially in the 20th century were the Marimbatraditionen often closely linked to the political history of the countries concerned - mostly indirectly, every now and then but also directly as part of ideological concepts, such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Ecuador - linked. In South America, the African heritage is clearly visible today because of the historical and geographical conditions. In the case of Brazil is probably the most over long periods large proportion of Afro populations in the total population, the decisive moment for the rather low degree of mixing with European cultural elements. In Colombia and Ecuador, however, rather long broad geographic isolation seems to be the essential factor for the preservation of African heritage. Comparisons of historical representations of Brazilian and African Marimbas show high similarities, and even when comparing historical figures with recent instruments, the similarities are still evident.

Known marimba

Songs with Marimba

  • Paul Creston: Concertino for Marimba, Op 21
  • Anders Koppel: Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra
  • Tilo Medek: Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra
  • Darius Milhaud: Concerto Marimba
  • Luigi Morleo: Concerto for Marimba and String
  • Steve Reich Six Marimbas
  • Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra
  • John Thrower: ' Rhythms of Life ' ( Solo and Orchestra Version), 'True Colours' dedicated to Bogdan Bácanu and ' Just One World ' dedicated to Momoko Kamiya
  • Bogdan Bácanu arranged several concerts of Johann Sebastian Bach for Marimba.
  • Pablo Aguirre: ' Concierto por la paz ' for marimba and symphony orchestra
  • Jorge Alvaro Sarmiento's Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra
  • Moondog: Elpmas (1991 )


  • Adams Musical Instruments / Thorn
  • Antonko
  • Yamaha
  • Bergerault
  • Marimba music instruments
  • Coe Percussion
  • Concorde
  • Kolberg Percussion
  • Korogi
  • Malletech
  • Marimba One
  • Musser
  • Saito Gakki Seisakusho
  • Studio 49
  • Vancore
  • Premier
  • Pré du Net
  • Lennback Music Instruments