Percussion instruments are part of the wonderful world of music that is both amazing, but exceedingly confusing if you are still learning. Unlike other instruments like a brass tuba or stringed pieces of wood, many people tend to forget the importance of having them. Assuming that they are only there to add some color, many people never realize that all percussion instruments have something in common.
All percussion instruments are used to keep the rhythm of music going, adding colors and flavors to the music that are unreachable with just other instruments. Percussion instruments are regularly seen as simply an addition to music, when then are the heart of the sounds we love to hear.
There are many layers to music, and percussion instruments are the ones that help bridge the gaps left by others. While many instruments are able to make beautiful sounds on their own, it is when the right mix of sound, the harmony that instruments have with each other that we get music that make hearts leap.
These are the things that percussion instruments have in common and how these instruments bring music together.
How percussion instruments keep the rhythm.
All percussion instruments are hit in some way, either with your hands, a pair of stick, or hammers, which means that the one that plays them needs to know the feeling of the music around them. It is the role of the percussion player to keep the rhythm going for everyone else in the band, to provide the tune, the speed at which the music is being played.
Many times, if the percussion player does not know how to keep the rhythm going the rest of the band will quickly fall away or make mistakes as the rhythm of the music is interrupted. This is because while other instruments can have certain notes played from them, most percussion instruments only provide certain notes.
A Xylophone only has certain notes that it can play, which means that the player will have to create music within the limitations provided. Percussion instruments provide the rhythm through their often loud, and unique sounds that creates the beat to which the rest of the music goes.
When did percussion instruments start the rhythm
It’s unclear as to when the first instruments were made, or how exactly they were made, archeologists have long since argued this topic. What we do know is that your body is an instrument, with your hands providing the easiest to access percussion instrument you can find.
Simply clapping your hands together to a rhythm can be the start of music, we may never know if this was what helped start humanity’s love for music. But we do know that basic leather drums are still being found in locations across the world.
Knowing exactly when the music started is a pursuit best left to future scientists, what we can know is that percussion instruments have been with us from the start. They’ve been evolving with us, from basic thigh bones used to slam out a rhythm to some of the most complicated parts of any brand or concerto.
Can they be used on their own?
Many percussion instruments are capable of not only sounding out complicated beats when used on their own, but they can make entire songs without additional help. This can be seen with instruments like steel drums, where the beat that you hear is made entirely from just the one instrument.
Similarly, drum kits can easily create unique sounds that will sound amazing on their own, however unlike other instruments there are only two settings of quality with percussion instruments. With stringed instruments anyone can hear you gradually become better, while percussion instruments usually lack this gradual climb of quality.
For the observer it will almost always sound like you’re making random noises and generally unable to keep a beat. Until you become proficient, with a good dose of confidence, when you easily create and keep the rhythm in your own music. This is why percussion instruments usually require some natural talent, and the ability to not only feel the rhythm but to create it as well.
How many percussion instruments can be used at once?
Something that may shock people as that many bands use several drum kits in their music, with most concerto’s having entire rows of people playing on percussion instruments. If percussion instruments are used properly then you can have multiple at the same time even in music such as rock or pop.
The true limitation of percussion instruments and how many you can have depends on how well the players can synchronize them to play music together. If one player has a different rhythm than the other then there will be a clear difference and other players in the band may not be able to play their parts.
The impact percussion instruments have on music
While all instruments can be played on their own, percussion instruments are the heart of any good song, the deep feeling of bass that you can feel and hear. The impact percussion instruments have on music is almost incalculable, as a good addition of percussion music is rarely noticed for its full potential.
However, the lack of good percussion instruments are almost always noticed, limiting what the music can do. While acoustic songs can very well be enjoyable, rarely will it have an upbeat sound, that makes you want to dance and party. However, this may be more of a preference thing, depending on who you are and how you feel at that moment.
The most common percussion instruments used
The list of percussion instruments available in the world is long, as can be seen by many of our previous posts, it is almost too long to just list them all. Just the types of percussion instruments can be longer than one blog page can accurately list. Which is what makes it so odd that there is a clear winner for which percussion instrument is used the most.
The simple drum kit, with two cymbals and a kick drum is easily the most popular instrument in the world. Every garage band has someone on the drums and every large concerto has one hidden away among the other percussion instruments. The pure rhythmic joy of having a good drum player is easily one of the most amazing things out there.
One thing that never hurts to try though is experimenting with the world of percussion instruments, you never know what weird or long forgotten instrument may add exactly that sound you are looking for.
Percussion instruments have long been the heart of music, from times of old to the latest digital tracks, there is no denying the importance that they have in our music. The only real way for someone not music inclined to feel and understand the rhythm of music is when the percussion instruments are being played correctly.
This is why all percussion instruments have the important job of keeping the rhythm within their music, no other instrument in the music industry has to do so much, with so little. We know it’s time to go hit something, just be sure that your heart of the music is being done well!
Further Reading and Related Questions
Here are some more articles I think you may be interested in
Definite or Indefinite Pitch?
Whether you are looking to find out more about what Indefinite pitch is in percussion, or a list of definite pitch instruments, these two articles, will help your research and give you some suggestions to the fun that could be had playing percussion instruments from either of these two percussion classes.
How do Percussion Instrument Produce Sound
There is a science behind how percussion instruments produce sound, well, at least in some there are. This article delves into some of that science and also points out some of the obvious reasons for the sound of percussion.
Want to Start Playing Percussion?
The Biggest Debate in percussion Music
One of the longest-running and never to be solved questions in percussion music is whether a piano is considered a percussion or stringed instrument. There is a definite answer but still, the row rages on. Which side do you think I’ve come down on?
My Favourite Percussion Instrument
I am crazy about handpans, it is true, but I have just bought another Rav vast drum, so am thinking that maybe the Rav is now my favorite percussion instrument. In any case, if you have never heard of the Rav Drum before, take a look at my Steel tongue drum guide where I introduce it along with the history and development of the Steel Tongue Drum.