This chapter describes the basic acoustical characteristics of unpitched and pitched percussion instruments, including the functions of beaters (hammers). The history and development of percussion instruments commonly scored for is summarized, considering the xylophone, glockenspiel, triangle, cymbals, bells, gongs, and drums, including side or snare drums, bass drum, kettledrums (timpani), and tambourine. The contemporary use of percussion, including the drum kit, is outlined. Methods of tuning glockenspiel and xylophone bars are described, and brief descriptions of traditional bellfounding and drumhead preparation are given as examples of the varied techniques involved in making percussion instruments. Playing techniques are explored, including the choice of beaters, stick technique, and timpani tuning.
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