The Glockenspiel is a metallophone percussion instrument of German origin. The name derives from the german words glocken for bells and spiel for play. The instrument features a series of keys which are struck with mallets to produce sound. A keyboard mounted variant is also commonly used. The Glockenspiel is similar to the xylophone, but uses metal for its keys as opposed to wood. Traditionally, it is also smaller and features a higher pitched sound.
Due to its relatively small size, the glockenspiel produces a high pitched, bell-like sound. This is very useful in its common role as a marching band instrument as it can easily be heard above bass heavy brass and drums.
The glockenspiel is a variation on the cymbala, a series of tuned bells that date back to at least the 9th century. Over time, the bells were reduced in size from the large versions that were routinely played in churches, to smaller home versions in the 14th century. By the 17th century, the keyboard variant had emerged.