The xylophone makes a colorful addition to the percussion section of an orchestra. A xylophone is a set of wooden bars, mounted on a frame. The bar, each tuned to a different pitch, are played with sticks called mallets. Most xylophones have tubes below each bar to increase the volume of the sound.
The biggest xylophones have almost 50 bars. The wooden bars are arranged like a piano keyboard. When the bars are struck by small hard mallets, the xylophone gives a bright and sharp sound; soft mallets make the sound gentler.
The bars are made of rosewood. The shorter bars play the higher notes, and the longer bars play the lower notes. The bottom of each bar is thinner in the center. This makes the sound rich and warm.
Below each wooden bar is a resonator, a metal tube that helps to project and sustain the sound. Each tube is tuned to the same pitch as the bar above. Striking the bar makes the air inside the tube vibrate.