Percussion instruments are the backbone of any music ensemble. From the beat of a drum to the shake of a maraca, these instruments bring rhythm and life to any song. But, what exactly is a percussion instrument? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various types of percussion instruments and also take a look at what is not considered a percussion instrument. So, grab your drumsticks and let’s dive in!
Types of percussion instruments
Drums are a family of percussion instruments that produce sound when a membrane or skin is struck by a drumstick or hand. They are one of the oldest known instruments and have been used in various cultures for different purposes such as religious rituals, entertainment, and communication. Drums are typically classified based on their size, shape, and materials used.
The bass drum is the largest and lowest-pitched drum in the drum set. It is usually played with a drumstick or mallet and produces a deep, resonant sound. The bass drum is typically used to provide a rhythmic foundation for the rest of the drum set and is often played on beats one and three in a four-four rhythm.
The snare drum is a small drum that is mounted on a stand and is played with drumsticks. It has a deep, crackling sound that is produced by a set of wires or ribbons that are stretched across the bottom head of the drum. The snare drum is a versatile instrument that can be used for a variety of musical styles, from rock and pop to jazz and classical music.
The tom-tom is a cylindrical drum that is mounted on a stand and is played with drumsticks. It has a bright, resonant sound and is typically used to add color and texture to the drum set. The tom-tom is usually played on beats two and four in a four-four rhythm and can be tuned to different pitches to create a variety of sounds.
The concert drum is a large, bass drum that is typically used in orchestral and concert music. It is played with a mallet and produces a deep, powerful sound. The concert drum is often used to provide a rhythmic foundation for the rest of the ensemble and can be tuned to different pitches to create a variety of sounds.
Cymbals are a type of percussion instrument that consist of two round, concave plates made of brass or bronze, which are joined together by a hinge. The cymbals are played using a drumstick or a mallet, and they produce a bright, metallic sound when struck together.
- Crash cymbals: These are the most common type of cymbal and are used to create accents and climaxes in music. They are usually played by striking them with a drumstick and then quickly letting them fall back together.
- Ride cymbal: This type of cymbal is played with a drumstick and is used to provide a steady beat or rhythm in a song. It is often used in rock, pop, and jazz music.
- Hi-hat cymbals: These are two small, open-faced cymbals that are mounted on a stand and played with a pedal. They produce a sharp, staccato sound when closed together and are often used in funk and jazz music.
- China cymbals: These are large, flat cymbals that produce a bright, trashy sound when played. They are often used in rock and pop music to create a dramatic effect.
Percussion instruments are an essential part of any music ensemble, providing rhythm and dynamics to the overall sound. Among the different types of percussion instruments, metals are one of the most versatile and widely used.
- Maracas: Maracas are small, hollow, plastic or wooden containers that are shaken to produce a rattling sound. They are often used in Latin and Caribbean music, and can be played either alone or in combination with other instruments.
- Triangle: The triangle is a simple percussion instrument that consists of a metal bar bent into a triangle shape, with a small drum attached to each corner. It is played by striking the drum with a small hammer or mallet, producing a bright, staccato sound.
- Tambourine: Tambourines are circular frames with a row of small, loose cymbals or bells mounted on the outer edge. They are played by striking the cymbals with the hand or a small stick, producing a lively, syncopated rhythm.
- Castanets: Castanets are small, hinged, wooden or plastic sticks that are held in the hand and clicked together to produce a sharp, snappy sound. They are commonly used in Spanish and flamenco music, and can be played in a variety of rhythms and patterns.
Metal percussion instruments are known for their bright, crisp sound and versatility, making them a popular choice for a wide range of musical styles. Whether played individually or in combination with other instruments, metals add a dynamic and energetic element to any music ensemble.
Wood percussion instruments are a subset of percussion instruments that are made primarily of wood. They produce sound through the vibration of the wood when struck with a mallet or hand. Wood percussion instruments are commonly used in orchestral and concert band music, as well as in popular music.
- Xylophone: A xylophone is a musical instrument that is made of a series of wooden bars of different lengths. The bars are arranged in ascending order and are struck with mallets. The xylophone is a common instrument in orchestral and concert band music and is known for its bright and cheerful sound.
- Marimba: A marimba is a percussion instrument that is similar to a xylophone but has a more resonant and mellow sound. It is made of a series of wooden bars that are arranged in a slightly different way than a xylophone. The marimba is commonly used in jazz and popular music.
- Vibraphone: A vibraphone is a percussion instrument that is similar to a xylophone but has a motor that causes the bars to vibrate, giving it a unique sound. It is commonly used in jazz and popular music.
- Glockenspiel: A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument that is made of a series of metal bars that are arranged in a similar way to a xylophone. It is commonly used in orchestral and concert band music and is known for its high-pitched and sparkling sound.
Percussion instruments come in many forms, each with its unique sound and role in music. In this section, we will explore some of the less commonly known percussion instruments that are often misidentified as percussion instruments but are not.
Congas are a type of drum that originated in Cuba and are commonly used in Latin music. They are typically made from a single piece of wood and have a distinctive cylindrical shape. Congas are played with the hands and produce a deep, rich sound that is essential to many Latin rhythms.
Bongos are another type of drum commonly used in Latin music. They are smaller than congas and have a more open, resonant sound. Bongos are also played with the hands and are typically played in a rhythmic pattern.
Timpani, also known as kettledrums, are a type of drum that is typically used in orchestral music. They are played with a drumstick and produce a loud, sharp sound. Timpani are tuned by adjusting the tension of the drumhead, and they are often used to provide a strong beat or accent in a piece of music.
Although the bass guitar is a stringed instrument, it is often mistaken for a percussion instrument due to its role in providing a rhythmic foundation in many types of music. The bass guitar is typically played with the fingers or a pick and produces a deep, low-pitched sound that is essential to many genres of music.
While these instruments may not be traditional percussion instruments, they are still important tools for musicians and are often used in conjunction with traditional percussion instruments to create a wide range of musical styles.
While percussion instruments are a diverse group of instruments that produce sound through striking, shaking, or scraping, there are many other instruments that are not considered percussion instruments. These non-percussion instruments produce sound through different methods and are essential to the orchestral and classical music tradition.
The piano is a non-percussion instrument that is a keyboard instrument that produces sound through a combination of strings and hammers. The piano is a versatile instrument that can produce a wide range of dynamics and timbres, making it a staple in classical music.
The guitar is a non-percussion instrument that produces sound through strings that are plucked or strummed. The guitar is a versatile instrument that is used in many genres of music, including classical, rock, and pop.
The violin is a non-percussion instrument that produces sound through a bow that is drawn across the strings. The violin is a key instrument in classical music and is used in orchestral and chamber music settings.
The flute is a non-percussion instrument that produces sound through the air flowing across an opening and into a flute. The flute is a key instrument in classical music and is used in orchestral and chamber music settings.
The horn is a non-percussion instrument that produces sound through the air flowing into a horn and vibrating the horn’s tubing. The horn is a key instrument in classical music and is used in orchestral and chamber music settings.
Why these instruments are not percussion instruments
One of the most important things to understand when it comes to percussion instruments is what is not considered a percussion instrument. This is important because it helps to define the category of percussion instruments and provides a clear understanding of the instruments that fall within this category.
The main reason why these instruments are not considered percussion instruments is that they do not produce sound through the vibration of a struck or scraped surface. Percussion instruments rely on the vibration of a struck or scraped surface to produce sound, while non-percussion instruments produce sound through other means.
Another reason why these instruments are not considered percussion instruments is that they are not typically played with the hands or other striking implements. Percussion instruments are usually played with the hands, fingers, or other striking implements, while non-percussion instruments are played with the mouth, voice, or other parts of the body.
Finally, non-percussion instruments play a different role in music than percussion instruments. While percussion instruments are often used to provide rhythm and drive the music forward, non-percussion instruments are used to create melody and harmony. This means that non-percussion instruments are typically played in a different way than percussion instruments and have a different function in the music.
In summary, non-percussion instruments are not considered percussion instruments because they do not produce sound through the vibration of a struck or scraped surface, they are not typically played with the hands or other striking implements, and they play a different role in music than percussion instruments. Understanding these differences is important for understanding the world of percussion instruments and how they fit into the broader world of music.
1. What is a percussion instrument?
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is played by striking or scraping it with a handheld drumstick or mallet. Examples of percussion instruments include drums, cymbals, and maracas.
2. What are some examples of percussion instruments?
There are many different types of percussion instruments, including drums, cymbals, maracas, tambourines, bells, and gongs. These instruments can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, or plastic.
3. How is a percussion instrument different from a non-percussion instrument?
A percussion instrument is played by striking or scraping it with a handheld drumstick or mallet, while non-percussion instruments are played using a bow, keys, or other methods. Examples of non-percussion instruments include the violin, piano, and guitar.
4. What is not considered a percussion instrument?
Some instruments that are not considered percussion instruments include the guitar, piano, and violin. These instruments are played using a bow, keys, or other methods, rather than being struck or scraped with a handheld drumstick or mallet.
5. Why is it important to understand the difference between percussion and non-percussion instruments?
Understanding the difference between percussion and non-percussion instruments can help musicians choose the right instrument for a particular piece of music. It can also help music students learn how to properly care for and maintain their instruments.