Keyboard glockenspiel

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The keyboard glockenspiel (French: jeu de timbre) or organ glockenspiel[clarification needed] is an instrument consisting of a glockenspiel operated by a piano keyboard. It was first used by George Frideric Handel in the oratorio Saul (1739). It was also used in the 1739 revivals of his Il Trionfo del Tempo and Acis and Galatea, and the next year in L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Half a century later, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart employed a strumento d’acciaio in The Magic Flute (1791) to represent Papageno's magic bells, and this instrument is believed to have been a keyboard glockenspiel.[1] This part is nowadays sometimes taken by a celesta.[2][failed verification] Maurice Ravel preferred the keyboard version of the instrument because it can play a true ff dynamic for brilliance and iridescence in orchestral climaxes.[3] In the late 20th century, the firm of Bergerault began manufacturing a three-octave (F2–E4) mallet instrument with a damping mechanism operated by a foot pedal, which is capable of dealing with the wide range called for in contemporary scores.[1]


More recently, the keyboard glockenspiel has been used by:

Position in the orchestra[edit]

Owing to the skills required of the player, the keyboard glockenspiel is placed in the keyboard section of the orchestra rather than the percussion section, and is similarly not regarded as a keyboard percussion instrument. It is however regarded as pitched percussion in organology.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blades and Holland 2001.
  2. ^ "Chimes". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  3. ^ Schuller 1997, p.472
  4. ^ Del Mar 1983, 407.


  • Blades, James, and James Holland. 2001. "Glockenspiel (i)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Del Mar, Norman. 1983. Anatomy of the Orchestra, first paperback edition, with revisions. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05062-2
  • Schuller, Gunther. 1997. The Compleat Conductor. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195126610.