There are few certainties about the percussion family. No one can
say how many instruments it contains; few have agreed on playing
techniques; and few could name one orchestral piece specifically written
with percussion in mind. However, one thing is certain, percussion has been
shown over time that it is not merely a matter of beating out rhythm (“
History of Percussion” 1).
The family of percussion instruments is the
first musical instrumentation introduced to the world. To this date there
are countless percussion instruments. Each group of instruments has a
different ethnic origin and history in different societies. From the
shallow drums of fourth century B. C. to the giant cot rattles of the
fifteenth century, percussion instruments have had a unique history.
Percussion instruments have had an extensive background on many
factors of their sound, and playing style. All percussion instruments fall
into two main categories, idiophones and membranophones. Idiophones
produce their sound from vibrations without the use of a stretched membrane.
This could include castanets, rattles, and mallet instruments.
Membranophones are those that produce a sound from the vibrations of a
stretched membrane. These include any type of drum hit with a stick. Both
of these instruments are tunable in many different ways and forms;
... instruments of their ancestors, then created percussion bands made up of bamboo joints cut from the bamboo plant. ” (Pan a short history,1 ... varying sizes that are used to create tunes of varying sounds. After the emancipation of the slaves, the tamboo-bamboo ... realised that raised sections of the instrument tended to make different sounds than flat sections of the instrument. During the World War II ...
therefore, these instruments can be used as melodic instruments (“
Basic idiophones (also refereed to as concussion instruments) are
struck together. This includes clappers, cymbals, stones, and castanets.
Percussive idiophones are hit by nonsonorous strikers. These types of
instruments include gongs, triangles, and xylophones. Shaken idiophones
were usually cups or shells that contained rattles or pellets, the shaking
of the shells and cups produced a sound. There are many other idiophones
including scraped, split, and plucked kinds. (“Percussion” 653).
certain instruments are very important in the percussive arts field.
Membranophones are commonly referred to as just drums. They fall
into many categories such as kettledrums, bowl shaped drums, tubular drums,
friction drums, and mirlitons. Kettledrums and tubular drums are sometimes
tunable drums that can be played with hands or beaters. Friction drums are
rubbed together to produce their sound. Rattle drums have pellets enclosed
within to membranes that produce a different sound when the membranes are
hit. Mirlitons are those that the membranes are vibrated by the voice;
some think that these are not true musical instruments (“Percussion” 658).
Many though think that these instruments are the most energizing and
driving instruments of all musical instruments.
The history of idiophones dawns very early in civilization.
Clappers were the earliest forms of idiophones. The Sumerians used these
clappers in 3000 BC. Later on, Phoenicia derived castanets from the
Sumerian clappers. The Egyptian temples of 1100 BC used cymbals in acts of
worshiping their gods (“Percussion” 655).
There have been bronze bells
found in India dated back to 1000 BC. These are one of the earliest forms
of percussion discovered in physical form from India. Those who inhabited
India also used musical cups, which were forerunners of the popular musical
glasses. These musical cups were popular in India circa 800 AD. Western
Asia is responsible for the introduction of the gong in China near the
... Drum and Bugle Corps, boasting an instrumentation of all brass and percussion instruments. This arrangement of instruments can create an enormous amount of sound ... introduce original compositions, such as their opening and closing musical selections, "The Adventure Begins" and "Confrontation and ... crowd response. With this new philosophy, their musical genre changed over to more Latin or Jazz types ...
sixth century AD (“Percussion” 656).
Romans and Greeks used the
increasing availability of brass for their instruments. A cymbal was one
instrument used frequently by both the Greeks and Romans. The Greco-Romans
had an increased need for concussion instrument. Bones became a popular
use for concussion sounds (“Percussion” 653).
Indians in the Americas were
also users of concussion instruments. They used different types of sticks
and stones to produce the sound they were fond of. Certain types of bells
were also used by the native Americans. Civilizations near Central America,
like the Aztecs, used scraping idiophones for religious ceremonies. (“
The idiophone history was a pathway to the idiophones
used today. The many different ethnic ways idiophones used in their
begging are still used the same way today.
The history of membranophones is very unique. Women had a
significant role in the use of membranophones. The frame drum was a drum
played by women in Greece. The use of frame drums later moved to Rome. Th
early civilization of Mesopotamia used very large temple drums. Most
drums, during this time period, were played by men through all of Asia (“
Most drums used early in civilization were used for
mainly ceremonies and religious events. As Muslims increased the use of
the kettledrum became a major advantage. It was believed that the Muslims
invented the kettledrums (“Percussion” 659).
Around the dawn of the
seventh century, the use of drumsticks became a vital role in playing drums
in Asia (“Percussion” 658).
China and Japan invented a thunder drum, which
is a drum that resembles the sounds of rolling thunder. These drums were
used during large ceremonies and were played by many men at once. Drums
played a vital role in Chinese and Korean orchestras.
... instruments. The best known of percussion instruments, they are found throughout the world and in a great variety of shapes and sizes. A drum ... tabor, derived from an African instrument and sometimes called a tambour, was a small drum played with the right hand, while ... and marching bands. Traps, an assorted set of drums and other percussion devices played by a single performer, are a standard feature ...
Some orchestras were just percussion orchestras. Around the
twelfth century the first friction drums were used in Spain and Western
The history of percussion is very unique and impressive. The
origins of different percussion instruments are interesting to the mind.
Many other musical instruments have a long history but the history of
percussion is very unparagoned and compelling. Today, percussion
instruments are widely used in orchestras and symphonies around the world,
these instruments of the past have taken many different forms. The future
of percussion instruments holds new innovative musical ideas, and an
increase for the music appreciation endeavor.