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The celesta, invented in 1886 by Auguste Mustel, is a keyboard instrument resembling a small upright piano. The keys control a series of hammers which strike against metal bars fastened over wood resonators. It is like a keyboard version of the glockenspiel, though the sound is softer; both instruments are known as metallophones. It has a very delicate and ethereal tone, and this most likely inspired its name which is from the French word céleste, meaning celestial.

It can add a wonderfully magical colour to the orchestra as in the infamous 'Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy' in Tchaikovsky's 'The Nutcracker' which is considered its first major role in a large orchestral work.

Its music is written on two staves in the treble and bass clefs, like the piano. It has a four-octave range and sounds an octave higher than the written notes.

Even as an orchestral instrument it is a rarity, however, here are two examples in which it is used:

Béla Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.

Shostakovich: Ballet suite No. 1, "Music Box Waltz"

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