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A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles); struck, scraped or rubbed by hand; or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.
A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications.
A rattle is a percussion beater that is attached to or enclosed by a percussion instrument so that motion of the instrument will cause the rattle to strike the instrument and create sound.
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal tract, such as talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. The human voice frequency is specifically a part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary sound source.
The percussion section of an orchestra most commonly contains instruments such as timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle and tambourine. However, the section can also contain non-percussive instruments, such as whistles and sirens, or a blown conch shell. Percussive techniques can also be applied to the human body, as in body percussion. On the other hand, keyboard instruments, such as the celesta, are not normally part of the percussion section, but keyboard percussion instruments such as the glockenspiel and xylophone (which do not have piano keyboards) are included.
The percussion section is one of the main divisions of the orchestra and the concert band. It includes most percussion instruments and all unpitched instruments.
Timpani or kettledrums are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum categorised as a semispherical drum, they consist of a membrane called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. Most modern timpani are pedal timpani and can be tuned quickly and accurately to specific pitches by skilled players through the use of a movable foot-pedal. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet. Timpani evolved from military drums to become a staple of the classical orchestra by the last third of the 18th century. Today, they are used in many types of ensembles, including concert bands, marching bands, orchestras, and even in some rock bands.
A snare drum or side drum is a percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. Snare drums are often used in orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, and more. It is one of the central pieces in a drum set, a collection of percussion instruments designed to be played by a seated drummer and used in many genres of music.
Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two classes: Pitched percussion instruments, which produce notes with an identifiable pitch, and unpitched percussion instruments, which produce notes or sounds without an identifiable pitch.
Pitch is a perceptual property of sounds that allows their ordering on a frequency-related scale, or more commonly, pitch is the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies. Pitch can be determined only in sounds that have a frequency that is clear and stable enough to distinguish from noise. Pitch is a major auditory attribute of musical tones, along with duration, loudness, and timbre.
Percussion instruments may play not only rhythm, but also melody and harmony.
Rhythm generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions". This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds ; to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.
A melody, also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.
In music, harmony considers the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches, or chords.
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 pianist, bassist, drummer and sometimes the guitarist are 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 18th and 19th centuries, other percussion instruments (like the triangle or cymbals) have been used, again generally sparingly. The use of percussion instruments became more frequent in the 20th century classical music.
A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.
A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band who provide the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band.
Franz Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio. His contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet".
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.
A marching band is a group in which instrumental musicians perform while marching, often for entertainment or competition. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Most marching bands wear a uniform, often of a military style, that includes an associated organization's colors, name or symbol. Most high school marching bands, and some college marching bands, are accompanied by a color guard, a group of performers who add a visual interpretation to the music through the use of props, most often flags, rifles, and sabres.
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 represented in these ensembles.
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 bass clef is substituted for rhythm clef.
Percussion instruments are classified by various criteria sometimes depending on their construction, ethnic origin, function within musical theory and orchestration, or their relative prevalence in common knowledge.
The word "percussion" derives from Latin the terms: "percussio" ("to beat, strike" in the musical sense), and "percussus" (noun, "a beating"). As a noun in contemporary English, Wiktionary describes it as "the collision of two bodies to produce a sound." The term is not unique to music, but has application in medicine and weaponry, as in percussion cap. However, all known uses of percussion appear to share a similar lineage beginning with the original Latin: "percussus". In a musical context then, the percussion instruments may have been originally coined to describe a family of musical instruments including drums, rattles, metal plates, or blocks that musicians beat or struck to produce sound.
Hornbostel–Sachs has no high-level section for percussion. Most percussion instruments (as the term is normally understood) are classified as idiophones and membranophones. However the term percussion is instead used at lower-levels of the Hornbostel–Sachs hierarchy, including to identify instruments struck with either a non-sonorous object (hand, stick, striker) or against a non-sonorous object (human body, the ground). This is opposed to concussion, which refers to instruments with two or more complementary sonorous parts that strike against each other and other meanings. For example:
111.1 Concussion idiophones or clappers, played in pairs and beaten against each other, such as zills and clapsticks.
111.2 Percussion idiophones , includes many percussion instruments played with the hand or by a percussion mallet, such as the hang, gongs and the xylophone, but not drums and only some cymbals.
21 Struck drums, includes most types of drum, such as the timpani, snare drum, and tom-tom. (Included in most drum sets or
412.12 Percussion reeds , a class of wind instrument unrelated to percussion in the more common sense
There are many instruments that have some claim to being percussion, but are classified otherwise:
Percussion instruments are sometimes classified as "pitched" or "unpitched". While valid, this classification is widely seen as inadequate. Rather, it may be more informative to describe percussion instruments in regards to one or more of the following four paradigms:
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 can 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 experimentation, one can determine how an instrument produces sound and then assign the instrument to one of the following four categories:
"Idiophones produce sounds through the vibration of their entire body."Examples of idiophones:
Most objects commonly known as "drums" are membranophones. Membranophones produce sound when the membrane or head is struck with a hand, mallet, stick, beater, or improvised tool."
Examples of membranophones:
Most instruments known as "chordophones" are defined as string instruments, but some such as these examples are percussion instruments also.
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. In a traditional ensemble setting, aerophones are played by a percussionist, generally due to the instrument's unconventional nature. Examples of aerophones played by percussionists:
When classifying instruments by function it is useful to note if a percussion instrument makes a definite pitch or indefinite pitch.
For example, some percussion instruments (such as the marimba and timpani) produce an obvious fundamental pitch and can therefore play melody and serve harmonic functions in music. 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 discernible.
Percussion instruments in this group are sometimes referred to as "pitched" or "tuned".
Examples of percussion instruments with definite pitch:
Instruments in this group are sometimes referred to as "non-pitched", "unpitched", or "untuned". Traditionally these instruments are thought of as making a sound that contains such complex frequencies that no discernible pitch can be heard.
In fact many traditionally unpitched instruments, such as triangles and even cymbals, have also been produced as tuned sets.
Examples of percussion instruments with indefinite pitch:
It is difficult to define what is "common knowledge"—but there are instruments percussionists and composers use in contemporary music that most people wouldn't consider musical instruments. It is worthwhile to try to distinguish between instruments based on their acceptance or consideration by a general audience.
For example, most people would not consider an anvil, a brake drum (on a vehicle with drum brakes, the circular hub the brake shoes press against), or a fifty-five gallon oil barrel musical instruments—yet composers and percussionists use these objects.
Percussion instruments generally fall into the following categories:
One pre-20th century example of found percussion is the use of cannon (usually loaded with blank charges) in Tchiakovsky's 1812 Overture . John Cage, Harry Partch, Edgard Varèse, and Peter Schickele, all noted 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 that percussionists invent or find objects to produce desired sounds and textures. Another example: the use of a hammer and saw in Penderecki's De Natura Sonoris No. 2 . By the late 20th century, such instruments were common in modern percussion ensemble music and popular productions, such as the off-Broadway show, Stomp. Rock band Aerosmith used a number of unconventional instruments in their song Sweet Emotion, including shotguns, brooms, and a sugar bag. The metal band Slipknot is well known for playing unusual percussion items, having two percussionists in the band. Along with deep sounding drums, their sound includes hitting baseball bats and other objects on beer kegs to create a distinctive sound.
It is not uncommon to discuss percussion instruments in relation to their cultural origin. This led to a division between instruments considered "common" or "modern," and folk instruments with significant history or purpose within a geographic region or culture.
This category includes instruments that are widely available and popular throughout the world:
The percussionist uses various objects to strike a percussion instrument to produce sound.
The general term for a musician who plays percussion instruments is "percussionist" but the terms listed below often describe specialties:
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Throughout history, various methods of musical instrument classification have been used. The most commonly used system divides instruments into string instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments and percussion instruments; however, other schemes have been devised.
An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the instrument as a whole vibrating—without the use of strings or membranes. It is the first of the four main divisions in the original Hornbostel–Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification. The early classification of Victor-Charles Mahillon called this group of instruments autophones. The most common are struck idiophones, or concussion idiophones, which are made to vibrate by being struck, either directly with a stick or hand or indirectly, by way of a scraping or shaking motion. Various types of bells fall into both categories. A common plucked idiophone is the Jew's harp.
A drumline is a section of percussion instruments usually played as part of a musical marching ensemble. A drumline can also be a section on their own competing against other marching drumlines. High school and college marching bands, drill and drum corps, drum and bugle corps, indoor percussion ensembles are some examples of groups that include a "drumline".
Marching percussion instruments are specially designed to be played while moving. This is achieved by attaching the drum(s) to a special harness worn by the drummer, although not all marching bands use such harnesses and instead use traditional baldrics to sling their drums. The drums are designed and tuned for maximum articulation and projection of sound, as marching activities are almost always outdoors or in large interior spaces. Articulation is paramount to producing a "clean" sound from all the drummers in the line. These instruments are used by marching bands, drum and bugle corps, indoor percussion ensembles, and pipe bands. A marching percussion ensemble is frequently known as a drumline or battery.
In a marching band or a drum and bugle corps, the front ensemble or pit is the stationary percussion ensemble. This ensemble is typically placed in front of the football field, though some groups will work the front ensemble into a tight pod onto the marching field. Some high school marching bands opt not to march any percussion instruments, but instead have a "full" front ensemble.
The Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Sz. 110, BB 115, is a musical piece written by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók in 1937. It was premiered by Bartók and his second wife, Ditta Pásztory-Bartók, with the percussionists Fritz Schiesser and Philipp Rühlig at the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) anniversary concert of 16 January 1938 in Basel, Switzerland, where it received enthusiastic reviews. Bartók and his wife also played the piano parts for the American premiere which took place in New York City's Town Hall in 1940, with the percussionists Saul Goodman and Henry Deneke. It has since become one of Bartók's most performed works.
Orchestral percussion are percussion instruments used in orchestras and concert bands mainly in classical music and related styles. The term can also refer to the department or study of performance on said instruments at a music school or conservatory. Generally within such a department, students are required to study all aspects of orchestral playing; with marimba, snare drum, and timpani being the three most basic areas of study. Orchestral percussion usually does not include drum set
Struck idiophones is one of the categories of idiophones that are found in the Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification.
Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel (2000) is a song cycle in seven movements by the composer György Ligeti based on poetry by Sándor Weöres. The work is scored for mezzo-soprano and an unusual ensemble of percussion and wind instruments. The lyrics are whimsical and often nonsensical, sometimes combining random Hungarian words or parts of words into a nonsense language.
Collage is an album by American jazz percussion ensemble M'Boom led by Max Roach recorded in 1984 for the Italian Soul Note label.
The Loh Tarang is a melodic percussion instrument. It consists of a set of iron circular plates, of different sizes, held in a frame. Each plate is pitched to a note and they are struck with sticks on each hand. 'Tarang' literally means waves. Plates sound depends on the different size of plate and hand movement. Theory is based like Jal-Tarang.
A pitched percussion instrument is a percussion instrument used to produce musical notes of one or more pitches, as opposed to an unpitched percussion instrument which is used to produce sounds of indefinite pitch.
This is a partitioned list of percussion instruments showing their usage as tuned or untuned. See pitched percussion instrument for discussion of the differences between tuned and untuned percussion. The term pitched percussion is now preferred to the traditional term tuned percussion:
An unpitched percussion instrument is a percussion instrument played in such a way as to produce sounds of indeterminate pitch, or an instrument normally played in this fashion.
There are several overlapping schemes for the classification of percussion instruments.