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CORE Percussion Instruments Activity

Author: CORE Learn

rom primitive cave dwellers to modern city dwellers, people have always played percussion instruments. A percussion instrument is any musical instrument that you play by striking or hitting using either sticks or your hands. There are many kinds of percussion instruments, including drums, cymbals, and xylophones.

Of all the percussion instruments, drums are the most prevalent. They are commonly found all over the world. Every culture has developed its own type of drum. The drums may differ from culture to culture, place to place, and group to group, but all of them possess the same basic elements. They usually have a hollow shell, or frame, and a round drumhead. The shell can come in many shapes and sizes. Shells are usually made out of metal or wood. They can be shallow like a snare drum’s or deep like a conga drum’s. They can be shaped like a cereal bowl, an hourglass, or even a kettle.

The shell acts like a speaker to amplify the sound, or make it louder. A small drum, like a bongo, will sound faint compared to the huge noise made by a big bass drum used in a marching band.

The drumhead is usually made from an animal hide. The animal hide, or skin, is stretched tight over the drum shell. When the drummer hits the drumhead, it vibrates, or moves very quickly back and forth. This vibration creates a resonant, or deep and rich, sound. A drum’s pitch depends on the size and the tightness of the drumhead. A smaller, tighter drumhead makes a higher-pitched sound.

Drumbeats are like beating hearts. You can hear their rhythms through the ages.


Copyright © 2008 by CORE. Permission granted to reproduce for classroom use.

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