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Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments come in a wide variety of shapes and forms. One might suggest that any object could be used as a percussion instrument ... just bang on it! The more traditional members, however, can be roughly grouped as idiophones (xylophone, marimba, chimes, cymbals, gongs, etc.), membranophones (drums), aerophones (whistles, sirens), and chordophones (piano, harpsichord).

We will consider only members of the first two groups above in this section. These instruments will typically not produce harmonic overtones, though a few partials can often be ``tuned'' to approximate integer ratios of a fundamental.


  1. Vibrations of Bars:

  2. Rectangular Bars (The Glockenspiel):

  3. The Marimba, Xylophone, and Vibes:

  4. Chimes:

  5. Vibrations of Plates:

  6. Cymbals:

  7. Gongs and Tamtams:

  8. Bells and Carillons:


  1. Vibrations of Membranes:

  2. Timpani:

  3. Bass Drum and Snare Drum:

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