Percussion Essay

This essay has a total of 395 words and 2 pages.


Drums are among the oldest musical instruments. The best known of percussion instruments,
they are found throughout the world and in a great variety of shapes and sizes. A drum
normally consists of a skin or other membrane, called a head, which is stretched over an
enclosed space or over one or both ends of a hollow vessel. Exceptions include the African
slit drum, made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, and the Caribbean steel drum, made from a
metal barrel. Drums are usually played by the hands or by one or two sticks. In some
non-Western cultures drums have a symbolic function and are often used in religious
ceremonies. They are sometimes used in sending signals. The talking drums of Africa can
imitate the inflections and pitch variations of a spoken language and are used for
communicating over great distances.

Many drums used in Western societies are of African, Arabic, or Turkish origin. The
kettledrum was introduced into Europe during the Crusades. The European tabor, derived
from an African instrument and sometimes called a tambour, was a small drum played with
the right hand, while the left hand fingered a 3-hole flute. Across its center, the tabor
often held a snare, which produced a strong vibration and sustained the sound between

The modern symphony orchestra employs a variety of drums. Kettledrums are the most common;
the bass drum, tenor drum, and snare drum, or side drum, are also sometimes used, along
with tambourines and bongo drums on occasion. Among these, only the kettledrums produce
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