Many songs have xylophones in them. From pop to classic rock, rap, and jazz music. All the songs listed in this article are songs with xylophones in them.
The first song that we must discuss is one of the most well-known orchestral songs in the history of Xylophones.
#1) Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns
The Danse Macabre is a song, a poem, and an old French ghost story. This song is what music historians call a “tone poem.”
Top tip: Tone poems are pieces of music that, when played, can represent a poem, a short story, a novel, or a painting. It is confusing, and people stopped composing tone poems in the 1920s.
The Danse Macabre, sometimes called “The Dance of Death,” is a folk story from France. The story is that it is midnight on October 31, and Death becomes a person and visits a graveyard. Death stands in the center of the yard and plays his violin.
The violin summons the dead from their graves. Death makes the skeletons come alive and orders them to dance. The skeletons dance all night to the music Death plays for them.
When the rooster calls at dawn the next day, all of the skeletons return to their graves. Where they will wait for next year to come so, they can dance again.
The xylophone is used in this song to sound like the clattering of bones.
Songs With Xylophone Solos
#3) Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck
This one-hit-wonder song was released in 1975, but it took another year to be popular. The instrument played in this song isn’t a xylophone, it is a marimba. Both the xylophone and marimba are mallet percussion instruments and sound incredibly similar.
A few songs in this list use a marimba, but because most people call it a xylophone, we will do the same.
Top Tip: If you want to learn more about the xylophone and marimba, check out this article: https://topmusictips.com/7-instruments-similar-to-the-xylophone-with-video-samples/
The mallet percussionist in this song was a founding member of the band, Bo Wagner. He improvised the entire solo, and many musicians have tried and failed to play that solo.
Wagner wasn’t just a xylophone legend. He was a tap dancer, singer, and musician who performed on the Mickey Mouse Club a few times in the 1950s. He also was a doctor.
The solo starts at the 1:15 timestamp.
#3) Gone Daddy Gone by The Violent Femmes
The Violent Femmes are a folk-punk band that started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This song comes from the band’s album The Violent Femmes, released in 1983. The xylophone solo in this song is played by one of the band’s founding members Brian Ritchie.
Ritchie is not a percussionist; he plays bass guitar, his primary instrument. Brian Ritchie also plays the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute from Japan that is very difficult to play.
He became so skilled at playing the shakuhachi that he was given a teaching license from the Grand Master of the Shakuhachi. His professional flute name is Tairaku, which means “big music” in Japanese.
Here is the song with two xylophone solos by Brian Ritchie as a member of the Violent Femmes.
The first solo starts at the 1:06 timestamp.
Songs With Xylophone Intro
#4) Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay
The song Mylo Xyloto is a song with a xylophone in the intro. It is also the introduction song to their 5th studio album: Mylo Xyloto. The album is a conceptual album and a thematic rock opera.
When each song is played in the order, it is supposed to tell a story similar to George Orwell’s book 1984. The song Mylo Xyloto is only 43 seconds long. Still, it is the perfect intro to the album, and the xylophone sets a futuristic mood for the rest of the album.
Listen to the song below and hear a terrific song with a xylophone intro.
Song With Xylophone In The Lyrics
#5) Alphabet Aerobics by Blackalicious
The fifth song in this list is a classic hip-hop song from 1999. Some readers may have heard this song when Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) sang it on The Tonight Show.
Blackalicious was a duo with the rapper Gift of Gab (real name Tim Parker) and the DJ/producer Chief Xcel ( real name Xavier Mosley).
Blackalicious was part of a tiny number of hip-hop groups called “positive tip” by hip-hoppers.
Top Tip: A positive tip group means that the lyrics to their songs are more spiritual, light, and uplifting.
The group was well known for combining Chief Xcel’s classic DJ beats with the Gift of Gab’s complex, multisyllabic, and tongue-twisting rhymes. They stayed away from creating music that had violent and misogynous lyrics.
Alphabet Aerobics uses the word xylophone at the end with the other words that start with X. This is a fun song to memorize and will get stuck in your head. Try to see if you can follow along with the video below.
Song With Xylophone In The Title
#6) Xylophone by Mom Rock
Mom Rock’s song Xylophone is one of those songs that make your toes tap and head bob as you listen. By the time the chorus arrives, you are already out of the chair dancing. They have been inspired by bands like Bleachers and Cage the Elephant.
Curtis Heimburger, Josh Polack, and Wilson Reardon, members of the band, met at the Berkeley School of Music. The guys became friends because they all were fans of the band Weezer. If you like the song below, you can hear more of Mom Rock on Spotify.
Rock Songs With Xylophone / Marimba
#7) Under My Thumb by the Rolling Stones
Under My Thumb is a classic rock staple from the Rolling Stones. The song is from their album Aftermath, which was released in the US in 1966. There is no xylophone in this song; instead, a marimba is used. As mentioned earlier, the xylophone and marimba sound similar.
The marimba player for this song was Brian Jones ( Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones). Jones was the founder of The Rolling Stones and played many different instruments.
Interesting fact: He was fired from the band he founded because of alcohol and drug use issues. Jones died at the age of 27 after drowning in the pool at his house a month after being fired.
The lyrics to Under My Thumb are about getting revenge on a former significant other. As soon as the song starts, you can hear Jones playing, and the marimba/xylophone is the primary hook in the song. Listen below!
#8) Africa by Toto
Toto’s song Africa has been popular since its release in 1982. The song is from the album Toto IV and became popular again in the mid-late 2010s due to social media.
The xylophone is played by Joe Porcaro, the brother of the band’s percussionist, Jeff Porcaro. When band members Jeff Porcaro and David Paich wrote the song, they had never been to Africa.
This song came out during the 1980s famine in Ethiopia. Jeff Porcaro has said about the lyrics, “[It is about] A white boy trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV.” Many charity songs were produced during this time, like We Are The World.
What makes Africa unique is that there has been very little criticism of the song written and played by white men who had never been to Africa. This song is not considered problematic or an example of cultural appropriation. This is because the lyrics are vague, don’t make sense, and go with a terrifically written piece of music.
You can hear the xylophone at the 1:44 timestamp.
Pop Song With Xylophone
#9) I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic! At the Disco
The song I Write Sins Not Tragedies is from Panic! At the Disco’s first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, released in 2006.
This song made it to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. I Write Sins Not Tragedies was the band’s only top-40 song until 2015 and the only top-10 hit until 2018. Despite its low rankings on charts, this song is one of the band’s most-played songs.
One of the most identifiable parts of this song isn’t a xylophone; it is a glockenspiel that can be heard at the song’s beginning. Most people confuse the xylophone and the glockenspiel, but it is worth including.
Fun Fact: The title I Write Sins Not Tragedies was inspired by a quote in a book by author Douglas Copland. The book is Shampoo Planet, and the line used as the title comes from the quote:
“ What I write are not sins; I write tragedies.”
Listen to the song below.
Famous Song With Xylophone
#10) Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye
Initially released in Australia and New Zealand in 2011, a year later the song was released in the US and was an instant hit. Gotye (real name is Wouter André De Backer) wrote and recorded the song in his parent’s home and barn in Victoria, Australia. New Zeland artist Kimbra was featured in the song as well.
The song samples Luiz Bonfá’s song Seville from his 1967 album “Luiz Bonfá Plays Good Songs.” Gotye played the xylophone in this song and produced and recorded the song. He also plays guitar, flutes, and drums in the song.
Fun Fact: Somebody That I Used to Know was the number 1 song on 23 national music charts. By the end of 2012, it was named the best-selling song, and 11.8 million copies were sold. Listen to the song below!
Song With a Xylophone Beat
#11) Ain’t It Fun by Paramore
Ain’t It Fun comes from the band’s 4th studio album Paramore (2013). The song was also released as a single in 2014. In 2015 the song won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.
Winning that award also made lead singer Hayley Williams the first woman to win that award since 1999, when Alanis Morissette won the same award. Along with the xylophone, Ain’t It Fun included a small gospel choir. It was the band’s highest-rated song on music charts. Take a listen to this fun and happy song.
Song Featuring Xylophone
#12) Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance for Shape of You in 2018. Coming from the 2017 album ÷, Shape of You was the number 1 single in 34 different countries. The song was also the best performing song of 2017. This song was the first song to have 2 billion streams on Spotify.
Ed Sheeran occasionally writes songs for other musicians. He originally wrote this for a duet with Rihanna and the British drum and bass band Rudimental. The head of one of his labels, convinced him to use the song for himself. Take a listen to this incredibly popular song.
Hip-Hop Song With Xylophone
13) Put It On by Big L
Put It On comes from artist Big L’s debut album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, released in 1995. Big L (Lamont Coleman) was from Harlem in New York City. He was known for his ability to freestyle in the underground East Coast hip-hop scene.
He was described as “one of the most auspicious storytellers in hip-hop.” He is credited as a founder of the genre of “horrorcore” (also known as death hip-hop/rap or horror hip-hop).
Top Tip: Horrorcore is a subgenre of hip-hop music. With horror-themed songs with dark lyrics, the opposite style from Blackalicious.
On February 15, 1999, Big L was shot 9 times in his East Harlem neighborhood. He later died due to the injuries. Take a listen to this hip-hop throwback.
Jazz Song With Xylophone
#14) Bags’ Groove by Milt Jackson
Jazz music often uses vibraphones, a mallet percussion instrument similar to the marimba and xylophone.
Milton ‘Bags’ Jackson was an incredible musician; he began learning the guitar at the age of 7 and piano at 11. He played the drums, the timpani, and the violin in high school and sang in the school’s choir.
Jackson learned to play the vibraphone at 16 after being inspired by Jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. He was discovered as a vibraphone player by jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. Jackson played with Gillespie’s sextet and had the chance to work with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
Bags’ Groove is considered a jazz standard. Milt Jackson was known as ‘Bags” because he had bags under his eyes. Take a listen to the song below and listen to Jackson playing.
Rap Song With Xylophone
#15) La La by Lil Wayne ft Brisco and Busta Rhymes
La La comes from Lil Wayne’s album The Carter III, released in 2008. This album was ranked number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold more than 1 million copies in the first week once the album dropped.
Tha Carter III won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. La La’s beat was initially created for the movie Shrek 3. Producer David Banner had this to say about La La:
“It [ the track] wasn’t designed for a rapper. So that within itself shows the dexterity, and what [Wayne] was doing”
Listen to the song below and how the xylophone adds to the music.
80s Songs With Xylophone
#16) Grey Matter by Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo was a new wave rock band from the late 1980s created by the composer Danny Elfman. Elfman has composed music for over 100 movie scores. The song comes from the album Nothing to Fear, released in 1982. Critics did not like the album, but they went on an incredibly successful tour.
What makes this song unique is the xylophone. It isn’t a xylophone but a balafon which is a xylophone made from wood and dried gourds from West Africa. Elfman went to Africa to learn about the instruments and styles of early music. The balafon used in this song was custom made and called a Rumbaphone.
Fun Fact: Not only did Danny Elfman write the music for the Nightmare Before Christmas, he was also the singing voice for Jack Skellington.
#17) I Will Follow by U2
This song is the first song on their first album Boy. The band’s lead singer Bono wrote the song to honor his mother, who passed away when he was 14. U2 has played I Will Follow on every tour since the song was released in 1980. It has been played more than 800 times.
Two weeks before the album was recorded Bono wrote the song. He wrote it from the perspective of his deceased mother, whom he lost in 1974. The song is about the special and everlasting love that a mother has for their child.
Bono wanted to include the xylophone to create “underlying instrumental coloring.” Since he knew what the coloring meant, he played it himself. Listen to the song below and see if you can hear the “instrumental coloring.”
Learning Basic Songs on the Xylophone
Have you been inspired by these songs? If so, here are some resources to help you learn the xylophone and play some of your favorite songs.
There are 2 different ways to learn and read music for the xylophone. The first way is by learning to read sheet music. This is the typical way to read music, but it isn’t the only way.
The second way is using music that is “by the letter.” The sheet of music you are reading will have a list of letters corresponding to the xylophone notes. For example, here is the first part of the song Mary Had A Little Lamb, but it has the letters color-coded and assigned a number.
Using the letter names for the notes or a number is an easy way to learn to play music without knowing how to read traditional sheet music.
An example of a traditional piece of sheet music without letters or numbers.
Some of the books and resources below use a combination of traditional sheet music with letters under the notes. Don’t worry if you don’t read sheet music; having both on the same page can help you learn what notes are located on each line or space in the music.
NOTE: If your instrument has wooden bars, it is a xylophone. If it has metal bars, it is a glockenspiel. It is okay if you have both instruments.
You can still play xylophone music on a glockenspiel. If you have a glockenspiel and can’t afford a xylophone, just look online for a chart with the bars of a glockenspiel and xylophone. Compare the two and see what letters your instrument has.
Xylophone Christmas Songs With Letters
Suppose you are interested in learning to play music for the holidays. In that case, many websites offer free music to download. It is a bit easier to buy a book or an ebook of music so you won’t lose the music or have the pages out of order.
This is an excellent book for learning Christmas music by the letters. Small kiddie xylophones do not have enough notes to play all 25 songs in this book. It requires a student xylophone or glockenspiel. It is available in paperback for a decent price and free on Kindle.
Songs To Play With A Xylophone
There are many websites where you can buy a piece of music to play. Using music books (digital ones are good) is how many people learn music. All the songs are in one location, and you can write in the book if you need to.
If there is a song you want to play and you can find music with the letters on it, you can play it. You may have to pay anything between $0.90 and $15 for one song if you find it online. A book has lots of songs, and buying a book with 50 songs will cost less than paying for 50 individual pieces of music.
The book First 50 Songs You Should Play On Xylophone from the music publishing company Hal Leonard is the best book to learn to play songs other than nursery rhymes and songs. Here is a small list of some of the songs in that book:
- Billie Jean
- Dancing Queen
- Shake It Off
- Mission Impossible Theme
Once you know the letters or how to read music, you can play almost an infinite number of songs.
Top Tip: Check out this article to learn all about how to play the Xylophone!
Xylophone Playing (FAQ Guide for Beginners)
Easy Xylophone Songs With Letters
The internet is a perfect place to find music to play. If you search for “xylophone songs with letters,” you will get millions of results. Google Images can be an excellent place to look as well.
You can buy books off of amazon, music stores or find downloadable sheet music to play. There isn’t a right or wrong way to find music to play (as long as it is not downloaded illegally); it really is that simple.
Songs On Xylophone For Free
If you are looking for free music to play on your xylophone, there are many places to search.
This website has free sheet music with letters for the xylophone and glockenspiel.
This website is an excellent resource for finding free music. Many of the songs here are classical music songs and do not have any letters. Still, as you continue to play and learn how to read music, this is a great place to find music to download.
8notes.com is another good place to find free sheet music. Just type Xylophone into the search bar, and a list of songs will come up. The link below will take you to music for xylophones and other mallet instruments like the marimba and vibraphone.
If you are looking for more traditional sheet music, here is a great place to look. Many of the songs and music here have been arranged by other musicians, so there are many different songs. While some of the music here is for a trio, quintet, or percussion ensemble, you can still play that music.
This is a library of music with over 460,000 pieces of sheet music to use. Every song in the IMSLP library is in the public domain. They are not under copyright, and you can use the music for free.
Xylophone Books For Beginners
Here are some beginner books that will help you learn to play like a professional.
A book that teaches by the letter is Play Xylophone by Letter: 22 Xylophone Songs for Kids and Adults by author Helen Winter. The book can be used for glockenspiel and is available on Amazon.
The next book is Standard of Excellence Book 1 (there is a book 2 that is more advanced) for Drums and Mallet Percussion. Often called “Standard of Excellence,” this book is what many beginning bands and musicians use to learn to play music. It is a core music education book, and you can’t go wrong with the Standard of Excellence books.
The next book isn’t a book. It is a link to the company Lone Star Percussion’s catalog of books. These 15 different books can be great for beginners. Most books are less than $20, so you won’t go broke buying books. Here is the link: Mallet Method Books, Beginner Keyboard, Xylo | Lone Star Percussion
Another excellent book is Xylophone and Marimba Method by Florence Schaeffer. This book can be found and purchased from the music publishing company JW Pepper. Many beginning bands play the music that was published by this company. The Xylophone and Marimba Method book is for beginners and teaches you music theory, how to play a mallet instrument, songs, and exercises.
If you liked this article check out some awesome songs with Saxophone in them!
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