Xylophones should be played with very hard rubber, polyball, or acrylic mallets. Sometimes medium to hard rubber mallets, very hard core, or yarn mallets are used for softer effects. Lighter tones can be created on xylophones by using wooden-headed mallets made from rosewood, ebony, birch, or other hard woods.Xylophone makers do generate byproducts. Typically, they offer a line of xylophones ranging from small or piccolo xylophones to bass models for orchestras or individual instrumentalists. Some also make other types of percussion instruments especially those in the xylophone family.Wiki info
The mbila (plural "timbila") is associated with the Chopi people of the Inhambane Province, in southern Mozambique. It is not to be confused with the mbira. The style of music played on it is believed to be the most sophisticated method of composition yet found among preliterate peoples. The gourd-resonated, equal-ratio heptatonic-tuned mbila of Mozambique is typically played in large ensembles in a choreographed dance, perhaps depicting a historical drama. Ensembles consist of around ten xylophones of three or four sizes. A full orchestra would have two bass instruments called gulu with three or four wooden keys played standing up using heavy mallets with solid rubber heads, three tenor dibinda, with ten keys and played seated, and the mbila itself, which has up to nineteen keys of which up to eight may be played simultaneously. The gulu uses gourds and the mbila and dibinda Masala apple shells as resonators. They accompany the dance with long compositions called ngomi or mgodo and consist of about 10 pieces of music grouped into 4 separate movements, with an overture, in different tempos and styles. The ensemble leader serves as poet, composer, conductor and performer, creating a text, improvising a melody partially based on the features of the Chopi tone language and composing a second countrapuntal line. The musicians of the ensemble partially improvise their parts. The composer then consults with the choreographer of the ceremony and adjustments are made. The longest and most important of these is the "Mzeno" which will include a song telling of an issue of local importance or even making fun of a prominent figure in the community! Performers include Eduardo Durão and Venancio Mbande.