A marimba is a percussion instrument which is made up of a set of wooden bars. These bars are struck with rubber mallets to produce a musical sound. There are resonators or pipes underneath the wooden bars which amplify their sound. Each bar is only one note. The bars for the lower notes are wide and long and the bars gradually get narrower and shorter as the notes get higher.
There is no standard range for marimbas but most range from 4-5 octaves.
A similar instrument is the xylophone. Xylophones were used widely across the African continent in the pre-colonial period. It is thought that the term marimba comes from the Bantu malimba.
Since the marimba has come from an African background, it is thought that introducing them into the Cathedral services has Africanised the service space.
Marimba intern, Asakhe Cuntsulana, explains more about the use of the marimbas in the Cathedral services:
We have acknowledged the Cathedral’s colonial past, let’s now look into the ways in which the church has attempted to transform itself into a multicultural space of worship.