Talk:Percussion instrument

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WikiProject Musical Instruments (Rated C-class, Top-importance)
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WikiProject Percussion (Rated C-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Percussion, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of percussion on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.

Move request[edit]

This article has been renamed as the result of a move request. PercussionPercussion instrument Ensuing discussion has been removed...look in this page's history to view the discussion.

Revision to the opening sentence[edit]

A percussion instrument can be any object which produces a sound by being struck with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or hit by any other action which sets the object into vibration. (emphasis added)

I'm not quite happy with the "by any other action which sets the object into vibration" part, because that would mean even stringed instruments and wind instruments are percussion instruments. Can we be more specific? -- FrostytheSnowman 'sup? 12:58, 1 September 2006 (UTC)[]

  • Response: I understand the concern. However I think that the definition is accurate and doesn't require a change -- here's my perspective:

    • String instruments and Wind instruments are exempt from this definition simply because popular opinion and the common understanding is that 'rubbing the strings' or 'blowing through the chamber' of those instruments are the primary methods of producing sound on those instruments -- and therefore they are grouped into "string" and "wind" categories by popular opinion. In other words, very few people will confuse a saxophone or a violin with a percussion instrument regardless of the definition we publish on this page.
    • Furthermore, I don't see a better alternative definition. (I'm open to hearing suggestions as to how this part of the statement can be improved -- but as of yet, there's no alternative suggestion to consider.)
    • Next... whatever statement is made, or if the existing statement is altered in the future, it needs to be broad and all-inclusive because there are virtually no limits on the methods of producing sound with any object. If you hit a violin with a stick it's not being used in a manner that we commonly associate with string instruments (although the strings will vibrate and resonate within the body much like they do when a violinist rubbs a bow across the strings). And...what if you rub a drumstick against the strings? Is it a string instrument or a percussion instrument? Does it in fact matter what implement is used to activate the string and set it into motion?
    • And last...(although this might be the most contraversial issue): I'd suggest that, at the most fundamental level, string instruments and wind instruments could (arguably) be considered to be "percussion instruments"...
      • blowing into a saxophone causes the reed to vibrate...but a vibrating reed doesn't create sound in and of itself. Instead, the reed is actually striking (in a percussive sense) against the air which surrounds it -- and when this activity occurs repeatedly (perhaps 440 times per second) then the resultant sound is a recognizable pitch ('A' 440).
      • rubbing horsehair against a string causes the string to vibrate (by the physical attributes of friction and inertia)...but again a vibrating string doesn't create sound in and of itself. (Imagine playing a violin in a perfect vacuum like space - on the moon!) What is in fact creating sound is the string moving against air.
      • so if we want to mince words, then both the violin and the saxophone could be considered aerophones (because the objects move "air") -- or perhaps they're all percussion instruments (because the air is "struck" by the object).
    • Nevertheless...if you feel the statement can be altered or improved then change it and we'll continue this discussion later.--Regards. 21:12, 2 September 2006 (UTC)[]

Request for images[edit]

Seems that the article lacks some complementary images. Can anybody add some? --Pouya 19:59, 1 January 2007 (UTC)[]

Request for citations and references regarding 'History'[edit]

This article lacks information about the history of percussion instruments. I've added a section called 'History' (because the article really needs such info) but the article will really benefit from verifiable information and proven facts about the history and development of percussion in human history. Can somebody help please? --Regards. 20:43, 13 January 2007 (UTC)[]

'Percussion Music stub'?[edit]

User:TheScotch suggested that a discussion about Percussion Music may deserve its own stub. I agree and disagree.

  • I'd suggested that discussion about Percussion Music shouldn't get too long or in-depth in this page.
  • But the current content under the 'Percussion Music' heading on this article is mostly about notation. So, aptly, this section now contains a link to Percussion notation. This link also appears in the 'See Also' section, which is appropriate and I'd suggest we can likely remove the current 'percussion music' content from the body of this article altogether.
  • However, rather than a 'stub' about percussion music, perhaps better use of the [Category:Percussion_music] would be much better in the long run.

Does anybody want to speckle the Category:Percussion_music on relevant articles?Regards. 01:56, 2 June 2007 (UTC)[]

I changed the name of the section to "Percussion notation," in line with its contents, with a link to the main article. I think it's reasonable to have a brief discussion of it here, instead of merely a link in the see also, as it is an important aspect of percussion instrument usage in many musical traditions. I suggest there also be a section about "Percussion music," meaning different ensembles, which would probably be just an overview to an article; a truly comprehensive one would not be short. That will take some thought and I'm not going to write it anytime soon. Rigadoun (talk) 02:58, 1 November 2007 (UTC)[]

Plucked Strings[edit]

Plucked strings, such as the harpsichord, are percussion too, right?

Guitars, lutes, balalaikas, harps, etc., are also plucked, therefore they are percussion.

What do you think of adding that to the article?

  • Response: The instruments you're referring to shouldn't be considered percussion instruments. They are string instruments. Some chordophones such as the piano and hammered dulcimer are percussion instruments, but that is because the sound is produced by a hammer striking the strings. But plucking a string and hitting it are, well, different.
  • Plucking is like rubbing I suppose and the first paragraph of this article (in the definition of percussion instruments) it states that a percussion instrument "is any object which produces a sound by being hit with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration". So by that definition, "rubbed" or "scraped" would be the closest thing to plucking -- but I think the definition may need modification. For example, a violin's string is "rubbed" but a violin is clearly not a percussion instrument (unless it's being played in an unconventional manner). I suppose the words "rubbed" and "scraped" are included in the definition to include sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, sand-paper blocks, guiros, cuicas and such things. But I don't believe the words "rubbed" or "scraped" were meant to include the act of plucking.

I think it is more scientific to define 'Percussion instruments' as those which produce 'Transient sound' and they differ from 'Sustained vibration instruments' which produce 'Steady state sound'. A guitar is a string instrument but works similar to a drum - in both, the sound produced by a single excitation decays to silence. Now take the example of Violin; As the bow is steadily drawn against the string, the friction between them produce steady state vibration and sound. Therefore Percussion Instruments, eg: Drums, Tabla, Guitar etc.. Sustained Vibration instruments, eg: All bowed string instruments (like Violin, cello..), Flute etc Classification based on construction could be a different one (Like stringed, Membrane etc..). The book "Study of NonLinearity - Dynamics, The Geometry of behaviour" by Ralph H Abraham and Christopher D Shaw give a great insight into this matter —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vinod gm (talkcontribs) 18:34, 10 April 2008 (UTC)[]

Folk Percussion Instrument section as misleading, and with respect unhelpful and culturally biased[edit]

This criticism refers to the following section:

With respect, the section on Folk Instruments, vs. common drums indicates a world view that is unfortunately rather outdated. Of course, I do not doubt the good faith and cultural well-wishes of the page writer, as, amongst non-percussionists, such a classification may seem reasonable.

However, three problems arise: Firslty, all the 'common' drums cited are those found in the predominant Anglo-Saxon tradition: consider the category of "Latin percussion" under 'folk drums'. Whilst the drum kit is probably indeed a very common type of percussion, the marching band and orchestral drums are not at all common, they are likely much rare, in terms of player populations, than the drums cited as folk drums", as opposed to those "common drums." This is particularly so with regards to the Orchestral percussion. Furthermore, most percussionists likely engage with many of the 'folk drums' more readily than some of the 'common drums'. Consider how many percussionists are likely to have Timpani in their studio, as opposed to congas, pandeiros, or a cajón. Furthermore, the claim that Marching percussion instruments are either popular or widely available throughout the world is, with respect, remarkably dubious.

Secondly, the 'folk' vs. 'common' drum dichotomy, aside from the cultural bias mentioned above, communicates a distinctly pejorative view of non-Anglo Saxon populations. I am sure this was not the author's intent, who I am sure is most culturally sensitive and tolerant – but this is not communicated in the article and it should be changed. It implies that the folk drums are strange, alien and unimportant. The word folk is perfectly acceptable. For example, the dholak would clearly be categorised in India as a folk instrument. However, when contrasted with 'common' drums then problems arise

Thirdly, the 'folk drum' category is internally flawed. This sections supposedly groups percussion instruments by cultural significance or tradition. It is thus bewildering that Tabla and Mrdangam are grouped together with the Thavil, Dholak and Dhol. The first two are mainly instruments in the two Indian Classical traditions (Hindustani music and Carnatic music, respectively). The second group are drums used in completely different contexts, in different musical genres. Thavil and Dholak are used for religious ceremonies and, particularly the dholak, bhajans (devotioinal songs). The dhol is used in social celebration situations. This is most distinctly different from the classical music tradition associated with tabla and mrdangam. Of course, tabla is becoming widespread, and occasionally is used elsewhere, but the mrdangam is still very clearly associated with the classical tradition.

What all this discussion hopefully indicates is that the section is incomplete and fails to group percussion instruments by cultural significance of tradition if it lumps these two categories of drums together.

I propose the following categorisation instead:

Drums by region and/or country. In case of overlap, a drum should be included in more than one category.

Within each regional categorisation, include different sub-categories, to indicate the cultural significance of each instrument.

An example:

'Indian subcontinent ' Classical Music (Hindustani)



Classical Music (Carnatic)




Temple Drums


Bhajan Drums


Folk Drums




Western Classical Music

Orchestral Percussion




Western Contemporary Popular Music

Drum kit

[A note here could be added to the following effect: 'The western drum kit has become widely popular across the popular music of many different countries in the world, and may also be found in other genres such as jazz and even in some orchesral classical works.']

[I will register soon, forgive the unsigned edition..] (talk) 13:46, 28 January 2009 (UTC)[]

I concur with this, even though it written some time ago. Would anyone object if I put together a preliminary list of percussion instruments by region and country, using a tree system as described above?Gudzwabofer (talk) 05:48, 22 March 2015 (UTC)[]
Sorry, just read Classification of percussion instruments and realised this discussion really belongs there. It seems the bulk of Percussion instrument#Classifications will be moved to Classification of percussion instruments and this section will likely be condensed to an overview. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gudzwabofer (talkcontribs) 06:00, 22 March 2015 (UTC)[]


Where is this class of percussion instruments? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 07:25, 3 February 2009 (UTC)[]

Response: Personally I'd say it'd've to be in Idiophones, I mean, cabasa is there.

There should be perhaps a classification by more common percussionists' terminology, so that it'd fit into 'shakers'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 6 February 2009 (UTC)[]

== triangle ==  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:59, 26 February 2009 (UTC) []

External link[edit]

Would it be possible to add to an external links section? This page lists all the best online reference materials for percussion. Thanks. Ndifrancesco (talk) 13:07, 22 May 2009 (UTC)[]

That looked exciting, but the link is busted! Useful links can be added to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Percussion#Sources for now, but the section risks being auto-archived if there are no new posts, so we may set up a page such as Wikipedia:WikiProject Percussion/online sources for such links in the near future. Andrewa (talk) 08:18, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]


This section has several problems, starting with the mightily unsourced "This, [all electrophones require a loudspeaker] if for no other argument, is sufficient to assign electrophones to the percussion family." Bologna is one way to spell baloney.

Previous to that, the claim is made that since a loudspeaker is an idiophone, it somehow qualifies as percussion. First off, dynamic loudspeakers, the majority of speakers, work more like membranophones than idiophones. More importantly, neither they nor piezo acoustic transducers (which come closer to being describable as idiophones) are struck, but instead excited by an electrical signal.

The assertion is made that a Rhodes piano is "most often performed by percussionists" is debatable, to put it politely. Maybe a few enlightened keyboard players consider themselves percussionists, but... The assertion is also ungrammatical, but that could be more easily fixed.

I am tempted to call rubbish on the whole section and delete it, but it does mention drum machines, which mimic actual percussion. Any ideas? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 15:28, 5 March 2010 (UTC)[]

Did it; section removed. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:59, 15 April 2010 (UTC)[]
Fair comments, all of them. Removing the section may turn out to be a good choice. There is just one problem to discuss and resolve...that is the fact that electronic instruments, when required by orchestras or large 'new/art music' ensembles, are often relegated to the percussion section. In ensembles which resemble the traditional orchestra, the percussionists are typically responsible for the arrangement and performance of electronic instruments. Refer, for examples, to: George Antheil, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich. How should this article, therefore, respect that? Regards. (talk) 02:42, 24 May 2010 (UTC)[]
Agree, there could be room for something about the instruments usually grouped with the percussion section, pointing out the difference between the ones actually struck, and the others conveniently grouped there. I notice that the Kitchen sink dab page refers to the "Kitchen sink department, the Percussion section of an orchestra" (with a {{citation needed}} tag). __ Just plain Bill (talk) 14:15, 21 September 2010 (UTC)[]

Critical issues[edit]

This article is listed as top importance by WikiProject Musical Instruments, but there are two issues that seem to me to be critically important to clarify regarding its scope. To help addree this I've refactored the existing section below to a subsection.

Tuned or untuned[edit]

The line between tuned and untuned is fuzzy, see


  • I've played a set of Paiste tuned cymbals, a set of twelve in a chromatic scale.
  • The difference bewteen a tuned and an untuned triangle is just usage, the sound and construction are both identical.
  • The difference in sound between a tympani (tuned) and a floor tom played with tympani sticks ("untuned") is very subtle (I have fooled some excellent ears recording such).
  • Large rototoms are used as untuned percussion in a drum kit, and as tuned percussion when used for tympani practice.
  • In the early 1970s when first studying percussion at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Phil Treloar used to tune his four-piece drum kit to G (bass drum), F (floor tom), C (hanging tom), and Bb (snare drum). (Hmmm, I see he didn't graduate until 1988, don't know the story there but he won a scholarship to go there much earlier than that... I considered learning from him, 1970 I think, but it didn't happen.)

This topic probably could be an article on its own, or perhaps two, for tuned percussion and untuned percussion (currently both redirects here). Andrewa (talk) 02:22, 7 February 2012 (UTC)[]

The more I think of it the more I think that articles on tuned percussion and untuned percussion are of top importance. A Category:tuned percussion and Category:untuned percussion, both subcategories of Category:percussion instruments (rather than of its parent Category:percussion), both seem good ideas as well. Andrewa (talk) 07:50, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]

We already have an article melodic percussion instrument and a Category:Pitched percussion. Andrewa (talk) 19:37, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]

And also a Category:Melodic percussion which is not currently a subcategory of pitched percussion or even of Category:Percussion instruments but just directly of Category:Percussion, that and the name is why I missed it before I guess. Lots to do. Andrewa (talk) 19:47, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]
And the description page for Category:Melodic percussion contains the lovely paragraph Instruments of finger keyboard are not included. I know what is meant. Lots to do. Andrewa (talk) 19:52, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]
And Category:Keyboard percussion reads Pitched percussion instruments played with beaters, laid out horizontally like a piano keyboard. Note that this does not include keyboard-operated instruments such as the Celesta. I'm beginning to think we have a personal classification scheme here invented by a contributor or two... That's mallet percussion, not keyboard percussion. But better than nothing... maybe. Andrewa (talk) 19:58, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[]
Wrong! See sources below. Andrewa (talk) 18:23, 5 March 2012 (UTC)[]

Pitched percussion sources[edit]

Moved to Category talk:Keyboard percussion#Category scope and name. Andrewa (talk) 19:30, 5 March 2012 (UTC)[]

Percussion vs concussion[edit]

I've attempted to clarify this [1]. But this is close to WP:OR at present. References are badly needed. Andrewa (talk) 18:48, 3 March 2012 (UTC)[]


subsection for discussion relevant to both issues above and/or others arising has a brief and authoritative description ...Percussion instruments are conventionally divided into ‘pitched’ (such as xylophones, bells and timpani) and ‘unpitched’ instruments (such as triangles and side drums), but in fact many unpitched instruments do give a sensation of pitch or at least of being ‘high’ or ‘low’... (which needs a copyedit as later there's an unmatched parenthesis). Other online sources? A visit to a dead-tree library may be needed. Andrewa (talk) 18:48, 3 March 2012 (UTC)[]

First soloist percussionist?[edit]

One of the images in the article has the caption: "Evelyn Glennie was the 20th century's first full-time percussion soloist". This is clearly false: here are a few counterexamples off the top of my head: Zakir Hussain, Alla Rakha Khan and Vikku Vinayakram. I am sure I am missing quite a few in that list. Should we remove that claim? (talk) 01:47, 28 September 2012 (UTC)[]

Probably not, but perhaps it should be clarified. She's certainly the first to be a soloist in orchestral percussion. The examples you list include at least one, Alla Rakha, who is principally noted as an accompanist rather than as a soloist. Andrewa (talk) 07:16, 1 July 2013 (UTC)[]

READ THIS!!!!!!![edit]

Percussion is NOT specific genre or a single instrument. Percussion has over 10,000 instrument to make up its whole! It is the oldest instrument other than voices, and was used in Africa as communication between villages. (Instruments such as the djembé, the Conga, and the talking drum, were African percussion instruments used as communication or as celebration! Lilshua117 (talk) 04:19, 25 July 2014 (UTC)[]

Link to the list of percussion instruments[edit]

I've put a bit of work into List of percussion instruments today, and I'm planning on doing a lot more in the near future, to make it a user friendly index to as many of the individual percussion instrument pages as possible. I'm wondering if it can be given a more prominent link on this page or the portal page. Gudzwabofer (talk) 21:42, 22 March 2015 (UTC)[]

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Nomination of Portal:Percussion for deletion[edit]

A discussion is taking place as to whether Portal:Percussion is suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia according to Wikipedia's policies and guidelines or whether it should be deleted.

The page will be discussed at Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Portal:Percussion until a consensus is reached, and anyone is welcome to contribute to the discussion. The nomination will explain the policies and guidelines which are of concern. The discussion focuses on high-quality evidence and our policies and guidelines.

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