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date: 26 September 2020

Percussion (Fr. instruments à percussion; Ger. Perkussion, Schlagzeug; It. percussione)locked

  • James Holland
  •  and Janet K. Page


(Fr. instruments à percussion; Ger. Perkussion, Schlagzeug; It. percussione)

A term used to describe instruments, in particular Western orchestral and band instruments, that are played by shaking, or by striking either a membrane (e.g. drums, tambourines; see Membranophone ) or a plate or bar of wood, metal or other hard material (e.g. cymbals, triangles, xylophone; see Idiophone ). They can also be divided into instruments that produce a sound of definite pitch (e.g. kettledrums, celesta) and those that do not (e.g. snare drum, gong). The term is also used to designate the section of the Western orchestra containing these instruments (Fr. batterie; Ger. Schlagzeug; It. batteria); the percussionist may also be called upon to produce a variety of sound effects.

The rise of percussion within the orchestra is primarily a development of the 20th century (but see also Janissary music ). An interest in orchestral colour and texture led composers such as Debussy (La mer, 1903–5) and Richard Strauss (...

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J.H. Beck: Encyclopedia of Percussion
J. Blades: Percussion Instruments and their History (London, 1970, 2/1974)