percussion instrument, any instrument that produces musical sound when its surface is struck with an implement (such as a mallet, stick, or disk) or with the hand. Perhaps the most universally familiar percussion instrument is the drum, common to the most primitive as well as the most sophisticated musical arts. Sticks clicked against each other are another simple form of percussion. These are related to castanets, cymbals, and the triangle. Among the percussion instruments used in the West are the bell, the celesta, the glockenspiel, the xylophone (and similar marimba), and the Caribbean steel drum. In general, percussion instruments are not tuned by construction; pitch, tone, and volume depend on the skill of the performer.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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