Instruments by Category

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater; struck by hand; or struck against anothersimilar instrument in order to generate vibrations, which then produce the desired sound note. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice, having been with man from his earliest days.

The percussion section of an orchestra most commonly contains instruments such as the drum, cymbals, triangle and tambourine. Keyboard instruments are not normally part of the percussion section, however percussion instruments such as the glockenspiel and xylophone (which do not have piano keyboards) are included.

Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two categories: pitched percussion instruments, which produce notes with an identifiable pitch, and unpitched percussion instruments, which produce notes or sounds without an identifiable pitch.

Percussion is commonly referred to as “the backbone” or “the heartbeat” of a musical ensemble. We've grouped our instruments into categories based on how they make sounds.