Percussion instruments

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck, scraped or rubbed

The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.

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. 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.

Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two classes: idiophones and membranophones. Some idiophones includes zills and clapsticks, or percussion instruments played with the hand or by a percussion mallet, such as the hang, gongs and the xylophophone. Some membranophones are most types of drum, such as the timpani, snare drum, and tom-tom.

Some percussion instruments can be played through a keyboard, like the celesta or the glockenspiel.

Most percussion instruments have no pitch, so they used a different type of musical notation.

Drum Set

A drum set, drum kit or trap set is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments set up to be played/struck by a single player.

The traditional drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones (most significantly cymbals but also including the woodblock and cowbell for example). More recently kits have also included electronic instruments (Hornbostel-Sachs classification 53), with both hybrid and entirely electronic kits now in common use.

A standard modern kit (for a right-handed player), as used in popular music and taught in many music schools, contains:

  • A snare drum, mounted on a stand, placed between the player's knees and played with drum sticks (which may include rutes or brushes)

  • A bass drum, played by a pedal operated by the right/left foot.

  • A hi-hat stand and cymbals, operated by the left foot and played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick.

  • One or more tom-tom drums, played with the sticks.

  • One or more cymbals, played with the sticks.


All of these are classed as non-pitched percussion, allowing for the music to be scored using percussion notation, for which a loose semi-standardized form exists for the drum kit.


Many drummers extend their kits from this basic pattern, adding more drums, more cymbals, and many other instruments including pitched percussion. In some styles of music particular extensions are normal, for example double bass drums in heavy metal music. On the other extreme but more rarely, some performers omit elements from even the basic setup, also dependent on the style of music and individual preferences.

COOP3RDRUMM3R - Drum set


Sherry Rubbins - Timpani

Etude for Timpani

Vic Firth

Unknown - Hang drum

music piece


Adriano Spampanato - Celesta


William Zeitler - Glass Harmonica

Dance of the sugar plum fairy


Robert Tiso - Glass Harp

Toccata & Fugue in D minor


David Cockhill - Percussion


Song: "Jingle Bells"

Dashing through the snow
On a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tail ring,
making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

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