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About Percussion

Posted on9 Months ago


The percussion section is one of the main divisions of any orchestra or concert band. It consists of three subsections which are tuned percussion instruments like the xylophone or glockenspiel, auxiliary percussion instruments like cymbals and snare drum, and timpani. St. John’s Music is a dealer for Yamaha, Adams, Ludwig/Musser, and Pearl Percussion


Visit a St. John’s Music to talk to our team of percussion specialists to help you find the instrument that is perfect for.


A good timpanist can set the standard of a whole orchestra. Timpani evolved from military drums to become a staple of orchestras and many music ensembles like concert bands and even some rock bands. A standard set of timpani consists of four drums: 32″, 29″, 26″, and 23″.



A chromatic instrument made up of bars that are struck by mallets. Somewhat higher pitch range and drier timbre than a marimba. Most commonly found in concert bands, percussion ensembles, and classroom music programs (diatonic version).



Each bar is paired with a resonator tube having a motor-driven butterfly valve at it upper end, mounted on a common shaft, which produces a tremolo or vibrato effect while spinning. The vibraphone also has a sustain pedal similar to that used on a piano. Most commonly used in jazz music or a wind ensemble.



The bars of a marimba are arranged as those of a piano with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural bars (similar to a piano) to aid the performer visually and physically. Most commonly found in concert bands, orchestras, marching bands, solo performances, and percussion ensembles.


Concert Bass Drum and Snares

The most recognizable percussion instruments are the bass drum and snare drum. The concert bass drum plays an integral role in the overall feel of a piece of music. The bass drum usually deals more with coloring and shading the sounds of the music. Whereas the snare drum accents the rhythm. The snare drum will produce sounds ranging from quick, short, and snappy to thick, warm, whip-crack like accents.


Orchestral Bell or Glockenspiel

A set of tuned metal keys arranged in the fashion of a keyboard. Glockenspiels are quite popular and appear in almost all genres of music ranging from hip hop to jazz to concert band to hard rock.



A gong is usually a large hung cymbal with a “nipple”. The nipple is a small dome in the centre of the cymbal that produces a single note when struck with a soft beater.



Concert chimes or tubular bells are metal tubes tuned by altering the length. Standard range is C4-F5. Concert chimes are sometimes struck on the top edge of the tube by a rawhide hammer.




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