Home > Instruments > Percussion
The section with the greatest variety of instruments. Percussion instruments can be pitched or non-pitched, and they are played in a variety of ways, from being struck with mallets all the way to being banged together or even shaken. In fact, anything which makes noise can theoretically play a part as a percussion instrument. The Russian composer Tchaikovsky even used a cannon in his 1812 Overture.
Pitched instruments are usually struck with a variety of mallets, and they range from the monstrous set of kettle drums to the keyboard-like glockenspiel. Their timbres, too, range from the thunderous beat of the timpani to the delicate silvery tones of the celesta. Their definite pitch makes it possible for these instruments to even play melodies, and indeed, several solos have been written for the xylophone, such as Kabalvesky’s ‘Gallop’ from The Comedians .
The other percussion instruments, however, are restricted only to rhythms. But as more modern pieces show, this does not hinder them at all! In fact, the wide range of available sounds can be manipulated in many ways to produce new, interesting blends of tone colours.