History Of Percussion Instruments

Any instrument designed using sonorous materials is known as a percussion instrument, and vibrations produced by percussion instruments tend to have either a definite or indefinite pitch. We would not be paying attention to pitch in percussion instruments, but what we will be looking at in this post is the history of percussion instruments.

The size of objects found inside of a pitch instrument is what decides the type of pitch you will get from a percussion instrument. In recent posts, we explained that percussion instruments produce sounds either by hitting, scraping, and shaking, and the drum is one of the oldest instruments you will find in the percussion family.

Some of the old drums that archaeologists discovered in the past are as old as eight or nine years ago, and this shows that a lot of people have dedicated time in inventing percussion instruments. One act you will find among monkeys is how they beat drums with sticks, and this shows that drums have been in existence for so many years.

Taking a look around you, you will find out that there are so many materials that can be used in making drums and for drumming. This is why drums are present among several ancient cultures and traditions, and this tells you how important that drums are. They can be used for communications, weddings, military initiation, and funerals.

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History Of Percussion Instruments

Anthropologists and historians believe that percussion instruments were the first musical instruments that were found in the present of the earth. However, man’s voice was the first ever instrument to surface on the earth, and percussion instruments were the next musical instruments after man’s voice on the earth.

You can play percussion instruments using the legs, hands, sticks, and rocks, and there are ways you can classify percussion instruments. The way you classify percussion instruments depends on construction, ethic origin, and function of the instrument itself, and this means you can’t classify them based on if they are pitched or not.

History Of Percussion Instruments

Below are certain criteria that you need to follow when classifying percussion instruments;

  • By sounds being produced
  • Through cultural and traditional significance
  • Common knowledge prevalence
  • Musical function and orchestration

Several emphasis is placed on the drum when you are discussing the history of percussion instruments, and this is based on the fact that it is the oldest instrument in the percussion instrument family. There are people who believe that the drum is used for ritual purposes, and people believe the drum is a central way of living for so many people.

Controlling the mind of people listening to the drum is one purpose of the drum in the times past, and we will show you some of the functions of percussion instruments in the next lines.

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Functions Of Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments are the backbone and heartbeat of every music, and these instruments can serve several purposes in the world of music today. The rhythm section of jazz and popular music is handled better by the bassist and drummer, and there are classical pieces written with emphasis on string, woodwind, and brass instruments.

You can also play jazz and popular music using the Timpani, and it can also provide accents when used for other music. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, triangles and cymbals were used for serving other purposes. Percussion instruments on the other hand became very useful in the twentieth century.

The use of percussion instrument can be seen in almost every genre of music today. and it is a very big motivation when the bass drum is being played during a military parade. A regiment’s tune is determined by the crisp and decisive air produced when the snare drum is being played.

Distinctive rhythm found in classic jazz music cannot be overlooked. It is quite difficult to neglect the involvement of percussion instruments in hip hop, rap, and soul music. These are diverse instruments which explain why it is easy for you to find a genre of music where percussion instrument is being used.

Musical groups nowadays offer so much rhythm, melody, and harmony, making every live performance enjoyable for you. Below are some examples of percussion instruments you will find today;

  • Triangles
  • Anvils
  • Jingles
  • Bass Drums
  • Side drums

Other examples of tuned percussion instruments includes;

  • Xylophone
  • Marimba
  • Bells
  • Crotals
  • Glockenspiel

Designing Your Own Percussion Instruments

History Of Percussion Instruments

Thanks to our environment, there are several materials we can use in making our own percussion instrument. One of the things that will work for you when making percussion instruments is when you make use of your ears, and wooden boxes is a very good option to go for since they are known for making melodious sounds.

Wooden boxes will provide you with rich tones, and it doesn’t cost much for you to get this done. However, designing percussion instruments doesn’t just start and end with wooden boxes, but there are other materials you can consider trying out. These materials are listed below;

  • Hub caps
  • Bake drums
  • Frying pans
  • Coffee cans
  • Glass jars
  • Old keys
  • PVC pipes
  • Copper tubing
  • Dowel

If the materials is made out of wood, metal, and plastic, it is likely to provide very good sounds. Another advantage is if the material comes in a round or hollow shape. The ears and your imagination are two tools you need to make good use of, and they are very essential if you are working towards designing your own percussion instrument.


It is safe for you to think that the heartbeat of music today lies in percussion instruments. Interestingly, the military, crude wars, and other aspects of life have all tried out percussion instruments at one stage or the other. This gives you an insight of how relevant these instruments are.

Hopefully, you are going to find every piece of information we have discussed in this post useful, and we are looking forward to all of your questions, thoughts, and opinions in our comment section. Thanks for reading.

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