An ode to Xylophones, the greatest of instruments
Guys, I have to come clean about something very intimate and personal to me. I... I have a xylophone fetish. Seriously though, the secret to my heart (or ears) in music is anything that goes *plink*. Now that I have reached the acceptance stage, I can take R. Kelly's advice and come out of the closet. I can't explain my obsession fully, but I can come to at least give you an understanding as to why I pine for more xylo in my audio.
I think part of the reason why the xylophone really speaks to me as an instrument is the very nature of its inherent positivity. You ever hear a sad xylophone song? I'm not saying I don't appreciate sad music - there's definitely a time and place for some somber tunes - but I generally like to keep my musical mood on the positive side. I'm a pretty upbeat person, so maybe that's why my favorite instrument is the same way. Listen to Manila Killa's remix of Tegan & Sara's song "Walking with a Ghost" and you won't be able to stop smiling!
Xylophones are also flexible, not entirely reliant on reproducing that same exact "happy" sound which they are unjustly stereotyped for. No, xylophones are not restrained to the role of children's instrument if they are utilized creatively. While still being positive, they can provide inspiring, unique melodies that uplift without their trademark kitschy kidsy sound. Just listen to the processed and distorted metallic xylophone set the mood for mesmerization in "A Walk" by Tycho:
In addition to being upbeat all the time, the humble xylophone doesn't have to take center stage and drive the melody of a song. No, the xylophone is often most comfortable taking a backseat and providing that extra little bit of special twinkle in the eye of the song. I've posted it before, but in case you missed it, you need to listen to Louis the Child and K. Flay's collab on "It's Strange" - the song wouldn't be the same without the relaxing xylophone setting the mood until Louis' swelling synths come in to wreck your face.
Okay, so maybe my obsession doesn't just stop at xylophones. Maybe I'm also enraptured by other little hollow metal thingies. Maybe whenever I hear bells or chimes in songs, I get that feeling where your hair stands on end and you get goosebumps (it's called frisson, by the way). I absolutely LOVE the shimmering effect that these little guys produce in songs, instantly transforming them from the mundane to magical. Just listen to "Sleepyhead" by Passion Pit and try to imagine the song without the twinkly little chimes.
The effect is the same in Odezsa's "Light". Boom, you're now lying face up in a wide open field, on top of a tall, rolling hillside. You're staring up at the sky and all you see is the incomprehensibly vast universe, lost in the midst of billions of stars. Woah. Chimes, dude.
I could go on, but I think I would exhaust those without comparable passion for bells, chimes, and of course, xylophones. I'm just trying to raise awareness of these oft-unappreciated instruments. Next time you hear a magical song, be sure to listen a little closer. If you hear that lovely *plink* sound in the background, tirelessly working to make sure the song is as awesome as possible, give a shoutout and spread the love.