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The Celesta is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. The keys are connected to hammers which strike a graduated set of metal (usually steel) plates suspended over wooden resonators. There is a pedal to sustain or dampen the sound.

The sound of the celesta is akin to that of the glockenspiel, but with a much softer timbre. This quality gave rise to the instrument's name, celeste meaning "heavenly" in French.

The celesta is a transposing instrument, sounding one octave higher than written. The original French instrument had a five-octave range, but as the lowest octave was considered somewhat unsatisfactory, it was omitted from later models. Interestingly the standard French four-octave instrument is now gradually being replaced in symphony orchestras by a larger, five-octave German model. Although treated as a member of the percussion section in orchestral terms, it is usually played by a pianist, the part being normally written on two bracketed staves.


[edit] History

The celesta was invented in 1889 by the Paris is an harmonium builder Auguste Mustel. Mustel's father, Victor Mustel, had developed the forerunner of the celesta, the typophone or the dulcitone, in 1860. This consisted of struck tuning-forks instead of metal plates, but the sound produced was considered too small to be of use in an orchestral situation.

[edit] Works featuring the celesta

The celesta, as with most orchestral instruments, is mainly found in classical music, as well as in many film scores. The following is a list of major and minor works that feature the instrument:

[edit] In popular music

The celesta has also featured in popular music here and there since the mid twentieth century:

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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