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Xyloba uses marbles instead of mallets in making music at Toy Fair

Music and construction come together in Xyloba, a.k.a. “the marble run that makes music.”

Xyloba display at Toy Fair.
Jim Bessman

The Swiss toy is handmade from beech wood and employs an interlocking system of building, “passage” and sound bricks used to construct towers from which marbles roll down tracks and pass through roll track crossings, striking a series of variably placed and pitched xylophone-like sound plate modules in creating melodies.

The marbles themselves are of varied composition to produce different timbres as they roll down their melodic journey.

Xyloba was on display earlier this week at Toy Fair. It comes in three kits: The Piccolino features 25 parts including four interchangeable sound modules for creating simple melodies; the Mezzo has 40 parts and eight interchangeable modules that can create more complex tunes.

The Xyloba Orchestra kit offers 96 pieces with 16 interchangeable modules that take the concept even further. Additionally available are “extension kits” for upgrading the Piccolino and Mezzo versions, and two “melody boxes”: The Xyloba Melodia Folksongs 1 melody box has 52 parts that produce the first lines from four familiar songs. The Melodia Folksongs 2 contains 98 parts for producing the first lines from 12 songs.

The Xyloba Melody Booklet offers detailed instructions for constructing the towers and laying out the tracks needed for achieving the 12 melodies. But creative players can also assemble the Xyloba components to compose their own melodies.

Incidentally, the wooden Xyloba parts are manufactured "with loving care" by handicapped people in a sheltered workshop in Switzerland.

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