What Is Orchestral Percussion?

The collection of percussive instruments used in an orchestra is known as orchestral percussion. In classical music, this type of percussion group arrangement is common. In orchestral percussion, a variety of instruments can be used, and the choice is largely determined the type of music. Drums, melodic percussion instruments, and auxiliary percussion are among the instruments found in an orchestra.

Snare drums, bass drums, and timpani drums are all common drum instruments in orchestral percussion sections. The drums are only part of the team in an orchestral percussion section, which usually includes a variety of melodic percussion and auxiliary instruments. Melodic percussion includes instruments with tuned keys that ring out when struck with mallets, such as marimbas, vibraphones, and xylophones. Melodic percussion instruments produce a percussive sound while also being able to play a melody.

Despite the fact that the timpani is a drum, it is frequently used as a melodic element in orchestras. These tuned drums, which are usually found in orchestras in groups of four or more, are frequently used to create simple, booming percussive melodies. To make the chosen melody, the timpani player must not only strike the head of the timpani in rhythm, but also play the correct drum sequence. A properly prepared timpani, like other instruments, is tuned to the correct pitch before a big performance.

Auxiliary instruments are those that are used to make percussive sounds that are not part of the drum pattern. They are an important part of the final touches on the feel of a piece. Though these instruments can be used to create the main beat, they are most commonly used to complement the overall drum beat in an orchestral piece. A wind chime tree, a cowbell, and a gong are examples of common auxiliary percussion instruments. Auxiliary percussion instruments include cymbals, triangles, and wood blocks.

In an orchestral percussion section, auxiliary instruments can be almost anything that makes a percussive sound. The 1812 Overture Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, for example, includes bells, chimes, and cannon fire as auxiliary percussion. Though it is frequently thought of as a featured instrument that produces beautiful arpeggios that appear to float in the air, it is often classified as a percussive instrument in orchestras. This is because the harp frequently plays plucked parts that are similar in sequence to the xylophone and other melodic percussion instruments.