Xyloba Mezzo Runway
Xyloba. The Xylophone Runway.
This marble runway made of untreated beechwood harbours hidden talents: Children, as well as adults (who also enjoy doing this), can make music with the Xyloba. Differently tuned plates like those in a xylophone are embedded in the framework of the runway. When the marble races down the runway through the tower, it bounces off the plates. Precise notes are produced which will even delight music virtuosos (the inventor of Xyloba is a professional musician).
"Everything is possible, from simple children's songs to Mozart," its inventor, Samuel Langmeier, explains – which is what makes Xyloba so unusual. According to inclination, mood and skill, the builders can put together the plug-in construction any way they want. There are practically no limits to the configurations unless one runs out of parts. But the manufacturer offers a way out of this dilemma with kits of different sizes which can be combined and extended.
Learning by Playing. The Sounding Marble Run.
The way the builder selects and places the sound plates determines which melody is heard when the marble rolls down the runway. In addition, one can establish the length of the note by choosing longer or shorter sound plates which double as connectors for the towers. In this way, the children develop a sense of notes, beat and rhythm. Put another way, Xyloba visually supports the experience of a musical foundation, while training motor skills and spatial thinking.
Setting up the high quality produced runway is intuitively simple because of the clever design. With the help of their parents, three year old children can discover rudimentary melodies. The recommended entry age is five years. The Xyloba kits called 'piccolino', 'mezzo' and 'orchestra' are recommended for beginners. The point here is to design the most varied tower constructions and become familiar with the first melodies. A composer's manual is included with the kit. There are many videos on the internet showing how to set up familiar melodies or create one's own compositions. Xyloba owners from around the world put themselves, their children, or their entire family on display, playing simple melodies or even complex musical pieces. Apparent that the solid construction puts no limit on building even tall runways with long sequences of notes. If there are enough Xyloba elements, a polyphonic effect can be created with parallel runways.
A Resoundingly Good Idea.
The idea to design a marble runway with integrated sounding plates came to Samuel Langmeier in a toy shop in Zürich. The Swiss chamber musician and composer found there on display a marble runway ending in sounding plates activated everytime the marbles rolled over them. In 1969 Langmeier went into action with several goals for his model of a runway in mind: the marbles had to strike the sounding plates cleanly, the sound elements had to be exchangeable, and the intervals had to be variable.
The professional musician glued together wood for the first construction elements and hung the little sounding plates vertically. In order to participate in the 4th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in 1975, he had his design patented. It was worth the effort because Langmeier's musical toy was awarded a Bronze Prize.
The Development Goes On.
The prototype for the Xyloba marble runway was created in the years that followed. First, Langmeier simplified the manufacturing process: Instead of glueing together the construction elements, he took one piece of wood and drilled out the hollow spaces. By inserting the sounding plates horizontally and fastening them with a bracket, he also improved the sound quality. Since Langmeier was at that point professionally preoccupied, he had no time to look for a manufacturer for his musical marble runway.
The Weizenkorn Foundation.
Many years later the Weizenkorn Foundation took over the production of Langmeier's musical toy and started to manufacture it in their sheltered workshop in Basel. More than 200 people who are not employable in the job market for psychological or psycho-social reasons work in this sheltered workshop. With just a few changes to Langmeier's prototype, the Weizenkorn Foundation's employees produce the building blocks for the Xyloba by hand from unprocessed beechwood.
Not suitable for children under 3 years. Risk of suffocation due to small parts that can be swallowed.
Article Number 88414
The kit includes 40 parts: 6 building blocks, 7 sounding blocks, 2 throughway blocks, 1 foundation plate, 6 short runways, 6 long runways, 1 eighth note construction part, 6 marbles, 8 sounding plates, and 1 mallet. The construction elements and the mallet are made of untreated beechwood (originating in Switzerland). Weight 4.2 kg.
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