Percussion (music)

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Concert with different percussion instruments at Tal Vadya Utsav (series of events for international percussion music in India) with Trilok Gurtu , Atilla Engin , Zakir Hussain , Okay Temiz , Peter Giger , Babatunde Olatunji , NN (from left to right)
Percussion instruments by Armin Sommer ( Duo Carillon ) at a concert in Altenberg Cathedral in 2014.

Percussion ( Engl . Percussion of Latin . Percussio "beating", "Clock", percutere , "beat") is the generic term for the game of all musical instruments from the area of impact and effect instruments . Percussion, based on clapping hands, is one of the oldest forms of music-making.

In modern popular music and in the percussion of a classical orchestra , percussion instruments are combined regardless of their origin or cultural significance.


In the general usage of pop and rock music , a distinction is made between " drums " (drum set) and "other percussion" (Latin, African, oriental percussion, etc.). This distinction lacks an objective basis, as the percussion is a combination of different percussion instruments that can vary greatly from one musical genre to another. However, conga , bongos , timbales and maracas , to name a few important percussion instruments, require special percussion or playing techniques that a drummer (in the narrower popular musical sense) does not always master - and vice versa.

Percussive effects

Percussive effects can also be created on instruments that are not primarily designed for this purpose. They have been used as special means of expression, especially in music since the 20th century. They can be realized, for example, by hitting the flap of wind instruments or knocking with the wood of the bow on the body of stringed instruments . With the guitar , too , they are often created in jazz or solo performances by knocking, hitting or tapping on the body (often using small wooden plates to prevent damage, which also lead to a percussive sound). A prepared piano can also be used to create percussive effects.

The vocal imitation of percussion in hip-hop or in modern a cappella singing by vocal ensembles is called vocal percussion or beatboxing .

Some bird species, such as woodpeckers , can make percussion sounds.

Instruments (selection)

Djembé (beaker drum) and balafon ( xylophone ) of the Susu of Guinea . Before 1931

Web links

Commons : Percussion  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Percussion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations