Price: Descending
Compare up to 4 items:
Clear Selection

    The percussion family of instruments is a broadly encompassing category covering everything hit with a mallet, sticks, or hands, shaken, or clapped. In classical music, percussion makes up the largest section of the orchestra, believe it or not, and in popular styles, it extends to drum kits, tambourines and maracas. Additionally, considering the greater usage of digital instruments, the category additionally draws in drum machines and other synthesized percussion devices that create similar sounds.

    Contrary to belief, percussion instruments aren't easy to play. Although the action may seem natural, players have to practice using the right amount of strength and executing particular articulations, regardless of whether they want to eventually be in an orchestra or a rock band. As well, because you're the beat that keeps everyone in time, a solid understanding of rhythm is essential.

    As well, percussion instruments and drums come in pitched and unpitched varieties. Many drums, for instance, are tuned to a single note. Other instruments, like the xylophone or marimba, involve reading and identifying as many notes as playing a piano. In turn, percussion players don't just have to execute rhythms precisely, but they also have to read music just as well - and possibly know multiple clefs.

    Types of Drums and Percussion Instruments

    As a word, percussion is derived from the Latin phrase "percussionem," or to strike. Yet, percussion instruments are divided into two distinct categories that involve what the player strikes. Idiophones are hit to make a sound and include bells, xylophones, clappers and anything that rattles. Membranophones require a material or membrane to be stretched in order to make a sound when struck and prominently include drums.

    Within this expansive category, some of the more commonly played instruments include:

    • Timpani: Also known as a kettledrum, these large, copper-bottomed percussion instruments are primarily used in orchestras, but you'll also spot them in popular styles. Practically a drum set unto themselves, each timpani is tuned to a different pitch, which can vary based on how loose the drumhead is.
    • Xylophone: Although this instrument's origins date back centuries in Africa and Asia, the modern xylophone includes two sets of wooden bars arranged like piano keys. The player then hits the bars with a hard or soft mallet to achieve different articulations. Metal tubes at the bottom help with amplifying the bars' vibrations. Related to the xylophone are the marimba, which has a similar arrangement but with wood or plastic resonators to create a different tonal quality, and the glockenspiel, a smaller, metal xylophone.
    • Cymbals: An untuned percussion instrument, cymbals by themselves are two large metal disks that the player hits together. Various techniques change the sound and tonality, while multiple sizes vary the pitch. Outside of an orchestra, you'll often spot a set of cymbals in a drum kit on a stand.
    • Triangle: This triangular-shaped metal bar generates a ringing sound once hit. Like cymbals, the triangle is an untuned percussion instrument that varies in pitch based on size.
    • Snare Drum: This wooden drum extends the drumhead over a hollow cylinder and has strings across the bottom to give it a rattling quality. Although the snare drum is part of an orchestra's percussion section, you'll spot them in drum kits and in marching bands.
    • Bass Drum: In a drum kit, the bass drum is located right by the player's feet. In an orchestra, it's a standalone instrument a player hits with a large mallet. In all cases, it's a hollow drum that generates the lowest pitches within the percussion family.
    • Tambourine: A tambourine, believe it or not, is built like a small drum but is untuned, and metal discs on the sides jingle to make a noise. To create a sound, the player either shakes or hits the tambourine based on the articulation.

    Find a Wide Selection of Percussion Instruments

    Whether you're expanding your drum kit or want a practice instrument, Alamo Music Center carries a broad and varied selection of drums and percussion instruments for classical, popular and world music styles. We offer 48-month, no-interest financing on purchases and offer trial lessons and extended warranties.