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WikiProject Percussion (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
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WikiProject Musical Instruments (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
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Correct Provenance?[edit]

According to copies of the original patents showing at Schiedmayer's website, the 1886 patent was

a) by Charles Victor Mustel (not Auguste Mustel). b) clearly labelled "Celesta" c) clearly describing a device that had 2 sound plates per note.

However we are told in this page that

d) C.V Mustel patented the typophone in 1860 e) Auguste Mustel patented the Celesta in 1886

e) is clearly at odds with a)

The celesta (at least the modern one) have only 1 sound plate per note.

Perhaps the typophone was a forerunner of C.V Mustel's "celesta", but if Auguste invented anything it was maybe an improvement of his father's device (removed one of the sound plates per note).

Later patents issued to Mustel and co refer to "Orgue celesta". It's not clear anywhere where the commonly used name "celeste" comes from.[1] (talk) 06:02, 14 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Multiple manuals[edit]

I just saw Bjork on SNL and she had (in addition to several other uncommon instruments) a celesta onstage with her that had two sets of keys. Any reason for that? 04:18, 22 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Back in March 2007, someone editing from I.P. address added information about a work of Guto Puw to this page (in this edit). In case that IP editor is still around, I just thought I'd mention that there is now an article about Guto Puw and any information that you can add about his works would be appreciated. Thanks, Bencherlite 16:27, 1 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clean up time[edit]

As it's gotten to the point where people are adding ANYTHING with a celesta in the score, it's probably time to give this a major cleanup, as was done similarly with bass clarinet, and stick to prominent uses. Anyone wanna give this a go? ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 11:31, 17 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I strongly agree. TheScotch (talk) 08:12, 30 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

recording needed[edit]

Any chance of somebody making a recording and adding it to this article? Seeing a picture is one thing, but the text description of the sound doesn't work for all of us. --Scott Davis Talk 12:45, 18 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


If the celesta was invented in 1889, how did Chausson use it in music written in 1888? (talk) 13:57, 18 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good call. According to Grove, the instrument was actually invented in 1886. This article seems to have been filled with misinformation. I'm trying to fix it as best I can bit by bit. TheScotch (talk) 08:23, 30 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It seems like there should be something in here about the celeste's use in 1940's U.S. popular music. It was pretty much the signature sound of that era. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:21, 31 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Really? I can't recall off the top of my head a single use of the celeste in 1940's U.S. pop music. TheScotch (talk) 06:21, 30 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis has three solo celesta pieces on the following album: Kylegann (talk) 16:03, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proper pronunciation[edit]

Re: "Well, if we're going with [s], at least put it in the IPA. Also, it does seem that some other languages pronounce it with a [tʃ]; someone wanna check it's never pronounced so in English?":

1. I used the pronunciation format for one of the three English dictionaries I checked, confident that eventually someone would come along and change it to whatever format wikipedia generally considers standard, which you appear to have done. Thanks.

2. I'm not sure how the words are pronounced in other languages, but I don't think this is particularly relevant for the English language version of wikipedia, except to note that celesta and celeste come to English from French, where the c couldn't possibly be pronounced ch, and to French from Latin, where again it couldn't possibly be pronounced ch. (If you have, or come to have, information about how they are pronounced in other languages, though, I'd be curious to hear it.)

3. Because I checked three English dictionaries (and especially because the first dictionary was the first edition of the American Heritage, the most reputable and reliable English dictionary ever published) and because of the etymology of these terms, I'm confident they are never properly pronounced with a ch sound in English. I have heard celeste mispronounced with a ch sound in English by a person who seemed to assume mistakenly the word to derive from Italian. (I feel unfortunately obliged to point out that in this case the speaker in question was putting on an affected manner of speech in other respects as well. In other words, not only is this mispronunciation not proper, it is also unnatural.) TheScotch (talk) 09:16, 11 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm a professional keyboard musician - primarily an organist. In organ terminology a celeste stop is a rank of pipes tuned sharp to give an undulating effect. It is pronounced with an initial "s" sound. The instrument under discussion here is always pronounced with an initial "ch" sound in orchestral circles. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:02, 25 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please tell your friends to start pronouncing celeste correctly. It's an English s sound, not an English ch sound. Celeste is French, not Italian. Thank you. (I'm also a professional keyboardist, by the way--and I've played the cello in an orchestra. The first consonant of cello is pronounced ch because cello is ITALIAN.) TheScotch (talk) 07:37, 17 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Widor's La Korrigane (1880)[edit]

I've seen many sites that say Widor used the celesta in the above ballet. But how can that be when the instrument was not invented until 1886 (or 1889, depending on the source)? -- JackofOz (talk) 21:24, 2 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As long as this site doesn't say it, I think we're okay. Anyway, I've cited the source of my 1886 as Grove. What's your source for 1889? TheScotch (talk) 08:08, 17 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rock examples[edit]

I always hate it when people add to pop culture listcruft here, so I'm a little embarrassed to be doing this, but: I would argue that the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning" and Iggy & the Stooges' "Penetration" are notable rock usages of the celeste. Thoughts?—Chowbok 21:52, 2 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you think so, add them. I for one just didn't want it to be a massive list of every little rock song that uses it, out of proportion to the thousands of classical pieces in the last 120 years that have used it. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 23:08, 2 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't want it to be a massive list of every big classical piece in the last 120 years that used it either. As it stands now, there is too much emphasizing (in every musical genre) in what pieces it's been used and too little emphasizing how it's been used, why it's been used. TheScotch (talk) 08:17, 17 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which Family and which Orchestral Section?[edit]

I had the following interaction over on the discussion page for the Orchestra:

Is the Celesta in the right section (Keyboards)?

The Celesta page says: "Although treated as a member of the percussion section in orchestral terms, it is almost always played by a pianist,".

This corresponds to other sources.

So I suggest that it should be moved into the Percussion section for both Late Romantic and Modern Orchestras? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hugh.glaser (talkcontribs) 16:42, 1 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So does the organ, it is a wind instrument with keybords, it must be a keyboard instrument. I believe that is much correct to be considered like this. If a percussionist would hear about celesta as being a percussion instrument, he will ask himself, where is the instrument? I want to try some jamming. Regarding the organ, the same stuff: wondering about this wind instrument, he will ask when can I start blowing? I think the fact that it has some keyboards system linked together with some micro-instruments (not a correct term at all) will make the real instrument. The instrument has other dimension and other possibilities because of the keyboard. Hope it's all clear now. --TudorTulok (talk) 09:55, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In fact it was a percussionist who asked me, and was not sure it should be in "Keyboards".

So in that case you would say that the Celesta page should be corrected?

I was going to say that it is this page (Orchestra that is wrong, and cite as examples of evidence:

Scholes (The Oxford Companion to Music, my edition 9th) simply says it is "percussion family" (p.165) and refers to where it has the Celesta as subgroup (2 d) of the "Instruments of Definite Pitch" in the "Percussion Family" (p.782 ).

Petit-Larousse (my edition 1969) says: "Instrument de percussion..."

However, further research indicates that there is less agreement, and perhaps the Celesta page needs amendment:

The current version of Grove, which is arguably a better source, says in the definition of Celesta: "It is normally played by the keyboard player (...), though some composers mistakenly include it in the percussion parts."

But on the other hand, in the Percussion article, Grove says: "They can also be divided into instruments that produce a sound of definite pitch (e.g. kettledrums, celesta)...".

One might conclude, therefore, that it is a member of the Percussion Family, but is part of the Keyboards Section of the Orchestra - slightly strange, but the distinction is between the instrument and the performer.

In which case the page for Celesta should be changed a little - I will take the discussion over there...

And over on this page, I have tried to amend the text to reflect this.

I think the article is clear about this fact, nothing to add more: "Although it as a member of the percussion family, in orchestral terms it is usually considered as a member of the keyboard section and almost always played by a pianist, the part being normally written on two bracketed staves, called a grand staff." You must be aware that the instrument (and similar instruments) is one way constructed, and other way operated, not with mallets but with keys. That would be all. --TudorTulok (talk) 20:12, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Excellent - that was much the new text I constructed, so it seems OK. Hugh.glaser (talk) 23:59, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, but someone seems to have changed it again. I am maybe being a bit pedantic, but I think that some acknowledgement that sometimes composers put it in the percussion section (wrongly) would be good. I have added a "more properly". Hugh.glaser (talk) 00:07, 3 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I changed it not only for that very reason, but also the text seems to flow better. (I also don't like the way the staff is mentioned, though I can't think of a better way to word it). The sentiment is good but perhaps the...I needs to be redone on the whole paragraph.
I agree: flow is not good, but I was trying minimise changes, being a bit shy :-) Will split the sentence... Hugh.glaser (talk) 21:43, 3 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I find it a bit odd that Prokofiev isn't mentioned in the history section of this page. Prokofiev's groundbreaking work Romeo and Juliet features an incredibly well-known -- and dare I say -- haunting Celeste solo. Prokofiev was also noted for utilizing the Celeste occasionally in his other works. ...Ω.....¿TooT?....¡StatS!.. 03:30, 20 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article is about the instrument. If Prokofiev has used the instrument in this ballet in a novel and influential way, then the article might reasonably discuss it--saying what that novel and influential way is. If it's merely that this is a famous piece involving the celeste such that it is easy to notice and remember it involves the celeste, then we have too many examples already, thank you very much. If you're dying to fit Prokofiev's ballet and the celeste together in some Wikipedia article, see if there's an existing Wikipedia article about the piece itself. TheScotch (talk) 08:27, 17 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Range of Instrument[edit]

This is one of a few well-known instruments that I've found on Wikipedia without a diagram of its range. I have found a site from Virginia Tech with a brief description of a lot of music theory and musical instruments along with a standard range for each instrument. Here is the website: impinball 12:23, 5 April 2013 (UTC)


From what I can see, there is barely a sentence relating to the construction of the celesta. I for one would be interested to see a few internal pictures, to read about a description of the action (if there is one), to see the steel plates and know what the hammers are composed of.Colbyhawkins (talk) 03:12, 30 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There's a creative commons photo here, showing the hammers and plates. Here it is full-size, not sure if either pic will really show anything, even if it was cropped, detail. It looks like I imagined it: hammers like a piano, plates like a glockenspiel. Raquel Baranow (talk) 04:31, 30 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

La La Land Score...[edit]

The instrument is used extensively in the score of La La Land but I can't find any good sources except it being in the name of one track ([1]).