Definitions for celestasəˈlɛs tə; səˈlɛst
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a musical instrument consisting of graduated steel plates that are struck by hammers activated by a keyboard
a musical instrument consisting principally of a set of graduated steel plates struck with hammers that are activated by a keyboard.
The celesta or celeste is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. It looks similar to an upright piano, or a large wooden music box. The keys connect to hammers that strike a graduated set of metal plates suspended over wooden resonators. Four- or five-octave models usually have a pedal that sustains or dampens the sound. The three-octave instruments do not have a pedal because of their small "table-top" design. One of the best-known works that uses the celesta is Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from The Nutcracker. The sound of the celesta is similar to that of the glockenspiel, but with a much softer and more subtle timbre. This quality gave the instrument its name, celeste meaning "heavenly" in French. The celesta is a transposing instrument; it sounds an octave higher than the written pitch. Its sounding range is generally considered as C3 to C7, where C3 = middle C. The original French instrument had a five-octave range, but because the lowest octave was considered somewhat unsatisfactory, it was omitted from later models. The standard French four-octave instrument is now gradually being replaced in symphony orchestras by a larger, five-octave German model. Although it is a member of the percussion family, in orchestral terms it is more properly considered as a member of the keyboard section and usually played by a keyboardist. The celesta part is normally written on two bracketed staves, called a grand staff.
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