With a name that means, “the hitting of one body against another,” instruments in the percussion family are played by being struck, shaken, or scraped. In the orchestra, the percussion section provides a variety of rhythms, textures and tone colors. Percussion instruments are classified as tuned or untuned. Tuned instruments play specific pitches or notes, just like the woodwind, brass and string instruments. Untuned instruments produce a sound with an indefinite pitch, like the sound of a hand knocking on a door. The percussion instruments are an international family, with ancestors from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe representing musical styles from many different cultures.
Also called orchestra bells, the glockenspiel resembles a small xylophone, but it is made of steel bars. The glockenspiel is typically played with wooden or plastic mallets, producing a high tuned sound that is bright and penetrating. The name glockenspiel comes from the German language and means “to play the bells.”