- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Accordion
  2. Acoustic bass guitar
  3. Aeolian harp
  4. Archlute
  5. Bagpipes
  6. Balalaika
  7. Bandoneon
  8. Banjo
  9. Baroque trumpet
  10. Bass drum
  11. Bassoon
  12. Bongo drums
  13. Bouzouki
  14. Brass band
  15. Brass instrument
  16. Bugle
  17. Carillon
  18. Castanet
  19. Celesta
  20. Cello
  21. Chapman Stick
  22. Chime tree
  23. Chordophone
  24. Cimbalom
  25. Clarinet
  26. Claves
  27. Clavichord
  28. Clavinet
  29. Concertina
  30. Conga
  31. Cornamuse
  32. Cornet
  33. Cornett
  34. Cowbell
  35. Crash cymbal
  36. Crotales
  37. Cymbal
  38. Digital piano
  39. Disklavier
  40. Double bass
  41. Drum
  42. Drum kit
  43. Drum machine
  44. Drum stick
  45. Electric bass
  46. Electric guitar
  47. Electric harp
  48. Electric instrument
  49. Electric piano
  50. Electric violin
  51. Electronic instrument
  52. Electronic keyboard
  53. Electronic organ
  54. English horn
  55. Euphonium
  56. Fiddle
  57. Flamenco guitar
  58. Floor tom
  59. Flugelhorn
  60. Flute
  61. Flute d'amour
  62. Glockenspiel
  63. Gong
  64. Hammered dulcimer
  65. Hammond organ
  66. Handbells
  67. Harmonica
  68. Harmonium
  69. Harp
  70. Harp guitar
  71. Harpsichord
  72. Hi-hat
  73. Horn
  74. Horn section
  75. Keyboard instrument
  76. Koto
  77. Lamellaphone
  78. Latin percussion
  79. List of string instruments
  80. Lute
  81. Lyre
  82. Mandola
  83. Mandolin
  84. Manual
  85. Maraca
  86. Marimba
  87. Marimbaphone
  88. Mellophone
  89. Melodica
  90. Metallophone
  91. Mouthpiece
  92. Music
  93. Musical bow
  94. Musical instrument
  95. Musical instrument classification
  96. Musical instrument digital interface
  97. Musical keyboard
  98. Oboe
  99. Ocarina
  100. Orchestra
  101. Organ
  102. Organology
  103. Pan flute
  104. Pedalboard
  105. Percussion instrument
  106. Piano
  107. Piccolo
  108. Pickup
  109. Pipe organ
  110. Piston valve
  111. Player piano
  112. Plectrum
  113. Psaltery
  114. Recorder
  115. Ride cymbal
  116. Sampler
  117. Saxophone
  118. Shamisen
  119. Sitar
  120. Snare drum
  121. Sound module
  122. Spinet
  123. Steel drums
  124. Steel-string acoustic guitar
  125. Stringed instrument
  126. String instrument
  127. Strings
  128. Synthesizer
  129. Tambourine
  130. Theremin
  131. Timbales
  132. Timpani
  133. Tom-tom drum
  134. Triangle
  135. Trombone
  136. Trumpet
  137. Tuba
  138. Tubular bell
  139. Tuned percussion
  140. Ukulele
  141. Vibraphone
  142. Viol
  143. Viola
  144. Viola d'amore
  145. Violin
  146. Vocal music
  147. Wind instrument
  148. Wood block
  149. Woodwind instrument
  150. Xylophone
  151. Zither


This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Percussion instrument

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A percussion instrument can be any object which produces a sound by being struck with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration. The term usually applies to an object used in a rhythmic context and/or with musical intent.

The word, "percussion", has evolved from Latin terms: "percussio" (which translates as "to beat, strike" in the musical sense, rather than the violent action), and "percussus" (which is a noun meaning "a beating"). As a noun in contemporary English it is described at Wiktionary as "the collision of two bodies to produce a sound". The usage of the term is not unique to music but has application in medicine and weaponry, as in percussion cap, but all known and common uses of the word, "percussion", appear to share a similar lineage beginning with the original Latin: "percussus". In a musical context then, the term "percussion instruments" may have been coined originally to describe a family of instruments including drums, rattles, metal plates, or wooden blocks which musicians would beat or strike (as in a collision) to produce sound.


Percussion instruments can be, and indeed are, classified by various criteria sometimes depending on their construction, ethnic origin, their function within musical theory and orchestration, or their relative prevelance in common knowledge. It is not sufficient to describe percussion instruments as being either "pitched" or "unpitched" which is often a tendency; rather it may be more informative to describe percussion instruments in regards to one or more of the following four paradigms:

By methods of sound production

Many texts, including Teaching Percussion by Gary Cook of the University of Arizona, begin by studying the physical characteristics of instruments and the methods by which they produce sound. This is perhaps the most scientifically pleasing assignment of nomenclature whereas the other paradigms are more dependent on historical or social circumstances. Based on observation and experiment, one can determine exactly how an instrument produces sound and then assign the instrument to one of the following five categories:


"Idiophones produce sound when their bodes are caused to vibrate." (Cook, 2006)

Examples of idiophones:

  • Celesta
  • Crash cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Pogo cello
  • Singing bowls
  • Wood block


Most objects commonly known as "drums" are membranophones. "Membranophones produce sound when the membrane or head is put into motion." (Cook, 2006)

Examples of membranophone:

  • Tom-tom
  • Snare drum
  • Timpani
  • Lion's roar: The lion's roar might be, incorrectly, considered a chordophone as rope or string is used to activate the membrane. However, it is the membrane which sounds.
  • Wind machines: A wind machine in this context is not a wind tunnel and therefore not an aerophone. Instead, it is an aparatus (often used in theatre as a sound effect) in which a sheet of canvas (a membrane) is rubbed against a screen or resonator -- this activity produces a sound which resembles the blowing of wind.


Most instruments known as "chordophones" are defined as string instruments, but some such as these examples are, arguably, percussion instruments also.

  • Hammered dulcimer
  • Piano


Most instruments known as "aerophones" are defined as wind instruments such as a saxophone whereby sound is produced by a person or thing blowing air through the object. However, the following example instruments, if played at all in a musical context, are played by the percussionists in an ensemble. Examples of aerophones:

  • Whips
  • Siren
  • Pistols: The explosion of hot expanding gases from the muzzle of a starter pistol produces sound.


Electrophones are also percussion instruments. In the strictest sense, all electrophones require a loudspeaker (an idiophone or some other means to push air and create sound waves). This, if for no other argument, is sufficient to assign electrophones to the percussion family. Moreover, many composers have used the following example instruments and they are most often performed by percussionists in an ensemble. Examples of electrophones:

  • Computers and MIDI instruments (i.e. drum machines)
  • Radios
  • Theremin
  • Typewriter (Although, mechanical typewriter which do not use electricity are strictly idiophones.)

By musical function/orchestration

It is in this paradigm that it is useful to define percussion instruments as either having definite pitch or indefinite pitch. For example, some instruments such as the marimba and timpani produce an obvious fundamental pitch and can therefore play melody and serve harmonic functions in music while other instruments such as crash cymbals and snare drums produce sounds with such complex overtones and a wide range of prominent frequencies that no pitch is discernable.

Definite pitch

Instruments in this group are sometimes referred to as "pitched" or "tuned".

Examples of percussion instruments with definite pitch:

  • Timpani
  • Marimba
  • Doorbells
  • Car horns
  • Glass harp
  • Glass harmonica

Indefinite pitch

Instruments in this group are sometimes referred to as "non-pitched", "unpitched", or "untuned". This phenomenon occurs when the resultant sound of the instrument contains complex frequencies through which no discernable pitch can be heard.

Examples of percussion instruments with indefinite pitch:

  • Snare drum
  • Crash cymbals
  • Whistles
  • Air raid sirens

By prevelance in common knowledge

Although it is difficult to define what is "common knowledge", there are instruments in use by percussionists and composers in contemporary music which are certainly not considered by most to be musical instruments of any kind. Therefore, it is worthwhile to try to make distinction between instruments based on their acceptance or consideration by a general audience. For example, it is safe to argue that most people would not consider an anvil, a brake drum (the circular hub on modern vehicles which houses the brakes), or a fifty-five gallon oil barrel to be musical instruments, yet these objects are used regularly by composers and percussionists of modern music.

One might assign various percussion instruments to one of the following categories:


  • Drum kit
  • Tambourine
  • Gong


(Sometimes referred to as "found" instruments)

  • spokes on a bicycle wheel
  • brooms
  • a shopping cart
  • metal pipes
  • clay pots
  • garbage cans

John Cage, Harry Partch, Edgard Varèse, all of whom are notable composers, created entire pieces of music using unconventional instruments. Beginning in the early 20th century, perhaps with Ionisation by Edgard Varèse which used air-raid sirens (among other things), composers began to require percussionists to invent or "find" objects to produce the desired sounds and textures. By late-20th century, such instruments had become common in modern percussion ensemble music and popular productions such as the off-broadway show, STOMP.

By cultural significance/tradition

This topic should be investigated with caution so as to avoid being politically or historically incorrect. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to discuss percussion instruments in relation to their cultural origin which has led to a dualism between instruments which are considered "common" or "modern" and those which have a significant history and/or significant purpose within a geographic region or among a specific demographic of the world's population.


"World"/"Ethnic"/"Folk" drums

This category may contain instruments which have special significance among a specific ethnic group or geographic region. Such as:

  • Taiko
  • Bodhran
  • Djembe
  • Gamelan
  • Steelpan
  • Latin percussion
  • Tabla
  • Dhol
  • Dholak
  • Berimbau
  • Timbal


"Common" drums

This category may contain instruments which are widely available throughout the world and have experienced popularization among a variety of world populations. Such as:

  • Drum kit
  • Orchestral percussion instruments


Percussion instruments play not only rhythm, but also melody and harmony.

Percussion is commonly referred to as "the backbone" or "the heartbeat" of a musical ensemble, often working in close collaboration with bass instruments, when present. In jazz and other popular music ensembles, the bassist and the drummer are oftened referred to as the rhythm section. Most classical pieces written for full orchestra since the time of Haydn and Mozart are orchestrated to place emphasis on the strings, woodwinds, and brass. However, often at least one pair of timpani is included, though they rarely play continuously. Rather, they serve to provide additional accents when needed. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, other percussion instruments (like the triangle or cymbals) have been used, again relatively sparingly in general. The use of percussion instruments became more frequent in the twentieth century classical music.

In almost every style of music, percussion plays a pivotal role. In military marching bands and pipes and drums, it is the beat of the bass drum that keeps the soldiers in step and at a regular speed, and it is the snare that provides that crisp, decisive air to the tune of a regiment. In classic jazz, one almost immediately thinks of the distinctive rhythm of the hi-hats or the ride cymbal when the word "swing" is spoken. In more recent popular music culture, it is almost impossible to name three or four rock, hip-hop, rap, funk or even soul charts or songs that do not have some sort of percussive beat keeping the tune in time.

Because of the diversity of percussive instruments, it is not uncommon to find large musical ensembles composed entirely of percussion. Rhythm, melody and harmony are all apparent and alive in these musical groups, and in live performance they are quite a sight to see.

Percussion music

Music for pitched percussion instruments can be notated on a staff with the same treble and bass clefs used by many non-percussive instruments. Music for percussive instruments without a definite pitch can be notated with a specialist rhythm or percussion-clef; More often a treble clef (or sometimes a bass clef) is substituted for rhythm clef.

Names for percussionists

The general term for a musician who plays percussion instruments is "percussionist" but the terms listed below are often used to describe a person's specialties:

  • balafonist: a balafon player
  • bongocerro: someone who plays bongos and usually cencerro (a cow bell)
  • congalero, conguero: someone who plays congas
  • cymbalist: someone who plays cymbals
  • drummer: a term usually used to describe someone who plays the drumset or hand drums.
  • marimbist, marimbero: a marimba player
  • timbalero, timbero: someone who plays timbales
  • timpanist: a timpani player
  • vibraphonist: a vibraphone player
  • xylophonist: a xylophone player

See also

  • GOCOO a Japanese drumming band
  • List of Percussion Instruments
  • folk instrument
  • List of Percussionists
  • drum & electronic drum
  • drum beat (including a list of drum beats)
  • klopotec
  • Latin percussion
  • orchestral percussion
  • Stomp dance troupe
  • Percussive Arts Society
  • vocal percussion
  • tuned percussion
  • Zendrum
  • Drum Corps International
  • Blue Man Group
  • Musical Stones of Skiddaw


  • Gary Cook, Teaching Percussion, 2006

External links

  • - Percussive Arts Society
  • Percussion Resource - Perc Up! Percussion Music Education and Clinics
  • Dave's Percussion Library Online - Information about music for percussion instruments
  • vimoksha - Indian classical music, percussion and dance portal - Information on Indian classical music, percussion instruments and various forms of Indian classical dance.

Further reading

  • Gary Cook, Teaching Percussion, 1988
  • James Blades, Percussion Instruments and Their History, 1970
Retrieved from ""