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glockenspiel (glŏkˈənspēl) [Ger.,=bell-play], percussion instrument. The medieval glockenspiel was a sort of miniature carillon (see bell), sometimes played mechanically by means of a rotating cylinder with protruding pins. In the 16th cent. it was given a keyboard. The 18th-century glockenspiel had metal bars instead of bells, and in the 19th cent. the keyboard disappeared and the bars were struck by hammers. It has been used in the orchestra since the 18th cent. Related modern instruments are the tubophone, which uses a keyboard with tubes instead of bars, and the vibraphone, which has resonating tubes beneath its bars that vibrate using electricity. See also xylophone.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) A percussion instrument consisting of 25 to 32 chromatically tuned metal plates, which are arranged in two rows. The upper row corresponds to the black keys of the piano, and the lower to the white keys. Its compass depends on the number of plates. The glockenspiel is played with two small metal or, less commonly, wooden hammers.

(2) A set of small tuned bells.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned metal plates played with a pair of small hammers
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005