The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

LIII
INSTRUMENTS OF PERCUSSION

THE preceding instruments have been more or less suited to melodic work, and have been played by bowing, plucking, or blowing. Besides these there are a large number of instruments which are simply struck with a drumstick, hammer, or similar object, and which are mostly incapable of melody. Instruments that are struck are known as percussion instruments, and sometimes alluded to in an orchestra as the battery. The instruments,of percussion may be further divided into those that have a definite pitch and those that do not.

By far the most important are the kettledrums (German, Pauken; French', timbales; Italian, timpani). These consist of hollow hemispheres of copper, supported on tripods, and covered with a parchment called the head. This head is attached to the body of the drum by a metal ring, in which are screws that may be used to tighten or loosen it. The kettledrum, or simply drum, as it is often called in the orchestra, has a definite pitch, in spite of its drum-like character; and the screws are used to tune it.

Not only does the kettledrum have pitch, but a skilful player can make its tone vary in quality also. Two pairs of drumsticks come with it, one pair of wood and the other with tips of fairly soft sponge. Sometimes a third pair, tipped with leather, is used; while Strauss once called for birch rods. These different kinds of stick give different sorts of tone; and the performer can also vary the tone by striking at different places. A stroke near the side gives the sharpest and brightest tone, while one in the middle is duller. The usual spot chosen is about halfway between these two. The drum may also be muffled, for which purpose it is covered by a piece of cloth, which will deaden and shorten the tone.

In the orchestra are at least two kettledrums, of different sizes and pitches, played by one performer. The larger drum can be tuned to any note of the fifth between F and C, an octave below

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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