Contemporary music is a multi-component phenomenon. Every day there are compositions with genres integrated into each other as much as possible. The use of many musical instruments, the recording of compositions together with an orchestra – all these are the phenomena that mark the modern musical art.
Percussion: the main names of the range and their features
Percussion instruments are among the most diverse of all kinds of musical equipment. In fact, percussion can be called even the glasses filled with water, if you hit them with a small hammer. Among the main percussion products we can distinguish the following positions:
- electronic percussion: the perfect portable version of a percussion instrument that features several dozens of play modes, built-in pads, and an amazing feature – automatic accompaniment;
- vibraphones: compact models of original instruments that allow you to produce sounds of exceptional purity;
- xylophones: a chic instrument with a clear and comfortable setup as well as a high-quality sound;
- metallophone: the ideal instrument for music lessons, each model comes with a handy storage case for the instrument.
Do you want to play percussion, but don’t know much about it? The specialists of our online store 4Club compiled for you a small informative article in which you can learn about the variations of these beautiful percussion instruments.
The family of percussion (percussion) instruments is the largest in the orchestra. Percussion includes any instrument that makes a sound when struck or shaken. It is not easy to be a percussionist, as mastery requires a lot of practice to strike the instrument with the right amount of force, in the right place and at the right time. Some percussion is tuned and can sound in different sound ranges, such as the xylophone, timpani or piano, and some is not tuned and only sounds at a certain pitch, such as the bass drum, cymbals or castanets.
Percussion keeps the rhythm, makes special sounds, and adds emphasis and contrast to your music. Unlike most other musicians in an orchestra, the percussionist usually plays different instruments in a single piece of music. The most common percussion instruments in an orchestra are timpani, xylophone, cymbals, and triangle.
Timpani look like large polished bowls. They are large brass pots with calfskin or plastic drums stretched over the tops. Lithaurs are usually already tuned instruments, meaning that they can play different notes. A timpani changes the pitch when the drumheads are tightened or loosened, which in turn are attached to the foot pedal. The timpani is the central part of the percussion family, as it supports rhythm, melody, and harmony.
Most orchestras have four kettledrums of different sizes and are tuned to different heights, usually played by a single musician who strikes the drums with felt hammers or wooden sticks. The kettledrum player must have a very good ear for music, as he/she usually has to change the tone of the drums during performances.
The xylophone originally came from Africa and Asia, but has a Greek name that translates to “wood of sound. The modern xylophone has wooden slats or keys, arranged like the keys of a piano, with which the musician interacts by striking them with a special mallet. You can change the quality of the sound by using different types of mallets or hammers (hard or soft). Attached to the base of the wooden bars are metal tubes called resonators, which make the sound vibrate.
There are several other musical instruments similar to the xylophone that are also part of the percussion family.
- The marimba, a larger version of the xylophone with wooden or plastic resonators attached to the bottom of the wooden keys, which in turn give it a softer, more rounded sound.
- Also not to be forgotten is the vibraphone (known as a vibraphone), the instrument has both metal rods and metal resonators, with small rotating discs inside. The discs are attached to the rod, which rotates thanks to an electromechanism. When you play a “stable” note on the vibrato and the spinning mechanism works, the discs create a vibrato or undulating pitch of sound.
- Percussionists also often play a glockenspiel (pronounced GLOCK-en-shpeel), which is a miniature xylophone with metal rods instead of wood. The percussionist uses hard mallets to play the glockenspiel, with the instrument itself beginning to play with new sonic colors and resembling tinkling bells.
Cymbals are the biggest noise effect makers in an orchestra. They are usually two large metal discs made of forged bronze. Cymbals, which are untuned, come in a variety of sizes, from very small to very large. The larger the cymbal, the lower the sound it makes. Cymbals can be used in a musical composition to emphasize rhythm or create delicate sound effects. You can play the cymbals by hitting one after the other, or you can use sticks, hammers, and brushes to interact with more than one unit of percussion.
The snare drum
The snare drum is an untuned percussion, so it does not have a distinct sound. It is often used in military parades and is the centerpiece of any orchestra. Snare drums are used to maintain rhythm and create special sounds such as drum rolls. You play the snare drum by hitting the head with drumsticks, hammers, or brushes.
The bass drum is the largest member of the percussion family and plays the lowest sounds. The bass drum is built like a very large snare drum, and it is also an untuned instrument. You can play the bass drum by hitting the drum with sticks with large soft heads, often covered with sheepskin or felt. It can make many different sounds, from roaring thunder to a quiet whisper.
The gong, also known as the tamtam, is a very large metal plate that is in a hanging, upright position. This instrument is similar to a cymbal and is also untuned, but is much larger in size and has a raised center. To play the gong, you must strike the center with a soft hammer. Depending on how hard you hit it, you can get a deafening rumble or the softest shimmering sound.