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Meet the Instruments--Percussion


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Percussion instruments are made from several different materials. They are played by tapping, striking, shaking, or beating. Most percussion instruments do not change pitch, but some do. These instruments are used to keep rhythm and to add tone color. There are many instruments in this family. The ones listed below are only a few of the more common members of this instrument family.

Here are some members of the percussion family:

Bass Drum  The bass drum is very large.  It has parchment or skin stretched over both ends.  It makes a deep, booming sound.

Snare Drum The snare drum is smaller than the bass drum.  It makes a crisp sound. It has strings (snares) on the bottom that rattle.

Triangle  The triangle is made of steel.  It is hit with a small steel rod to make a tinkling sound.

Timpani  The timpani is also called a kettledrum.  It is a big, empty brass or copper bowl with calfskin stretched across the top.  It has foot pedals that adjust the skin to make different pitches.

Gong The gong is made of brass.  It is hit with a drumstick or mallet.

Xylophone The xylophone has a double row of small wooden bars of different lengths that play notes when they are struck.  It has a hard, hollow sound.

Glockenspiel The glockenspiel looks like a xylophone, but it is smaller and has metal bars.

Chimes  The chimes are a set of 12-18 metal pipes hung in a wood or metal frame.  The pipes sound like church bells when they are struck with a mallet.

Cymbals  Cymbals are made of brass.  They are clapped together.