Types of Percussion Instruments
Percussion instruments have been used in music in almost every culture for thousands of years. This wide and long history of use has resulted in many developments and types of instruments. However, the novice percussionist need not be daunted by the variety of instruments. Percussion instruments fall into a few categories, including drums, chimes, block instruments, and shakers.
Keep the Beat with Drums
Within the drum family, there are different varieties of instruments, including hand drums and struck drums. Hand drums, which include any type of drum played with bare hands rather than a stick, mallet, or hammer, have a simple design. Frame drums, the simplest type of hand drum, consist of a shallow, cylindrical shell with a membrane attached to one of the open ends. Some varieties of hand drums include the djembe, conga, and bongo drums. Struck drums are somewhat more familiar to the public, and include such instruments as the tom-tom, snare drum, bass drum, and the tenor drum.
Bongos, a set of two different-sized drums attached by a thick piece of wood, are played while held between the knees. While traditionally made of wood, modern bongos may be constructed of wood, metal, or composite materials. The conga drum is a tall, narrow, single-headed drum that used to be made from hollowed logs or salvaged barrels with cowhides nailed or strung on. Currently, professional conga drums have a fiberglass or wooden shell and a screw-tensioned drum head. A traditional part of West African music, the djembe drum is a goatskin-covered drum shaped like a large goblet. Striking the skin near the center produces a bass note. Striking the skin near the rim produces either a tone or slap note.