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Shopping For Percussion

Percussion is one of the ancient musical instruments used by early human civilizations. These instruments are widely used not only for musical purposes but also as a symbol of cultural and religious values. Before shopping for percussion instruments it is always advisable to understand them properly. All percussion instruments fall under two broad groups tuned and untuned. Shakers and hand drums that produce undefined pitches belong to untuned category where as marimbas, steel pans, and xylophone that creates defined tonal ranges falls under tuned category. Today a variety of percussion instruments are available in the market.

It is widely believed that the percussion instruments are originated from African continent symbolizing their ancient culture. Djembe is one of the earliest versions of percussions. It is basically a large goblet-shaped drum carved of wood and fitted with animal skin. This instrument is played using bare hands and sometimes with sticks. Djembe is gaining popularity among western music lovers recently.

The thumb piano is a melodic percussion musical instrument having a carved wooden body and flattened nails or similar metals as keys. Tama or talking drum is tied with vertical strings across the body to produce changed pitches. It is believed to talk with skilled players while playing with curved stick. Udu is a pot shaped percussion instrument made of clay with narrow mouth and a hole in the side. This instrument is played by beating the clay surface in one hand and moving the other hand on the hole and mouth producing magnificent sound effects. Gadam is a similar type of clay instrument widely used in Indian subcontinent while performing carnatic classical music. Congas are the widely used Afro Cuban originated percussion musical instrument. Originally congas were made of wood staves and calfskin heads. Synthetic and fiberglass shells are used in modern congas which results in louder volume projection. Congas are normally associated with other two types of drums named tumba and quinto.

Usually these three instruments come as a set and are kept in conga gig bags or cases for better performance. Bongos are another kind of small hand drums originated from Cuba and are played in sitting position keeping the instrument between the legs. Timbales were originally iron vessels used in transporting sugarcanes. Steel or brass is used in modern timbales to produce powerful cutting tone which is suitable for any music styles like rock, Latin and fusion. The xylophone is a kind of tuned percussion instrument made of wooden bars of various lengths with vibrating tubes below them with piano like keyboards. Wooden, rubber or plastic headed mallets are used to play such instruments. Xylophones are used in variety of music styles including ethnic, jazz and classical.


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