Tag Archives: Idiophones



A percussion or concussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped or struck by a beater. This includes attached or enclosed beaters or rattles that are struck by hand or by another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.

The percussion section of an orchestra most commonly contains instruments such as timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle and tambourine. However, the section can also contain non-percussive instruments, such as whistles and sirens, or a blown conch shell. Percussive techniques can also be applied to the human body, as in body percussion.

On the other hand, keyboard instruments, such as the celesta, are not normally part of the percussion section, but keyboard percussion instruments such as the glockenspiel and xylophone [which do not have piano keyboards] are included.

Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two classes: Pitched percussion instruments, which produce notes with an identifiable pitch to which xylophones [balafon, marimba] fall under and unpitched percussion instruments like the udu, wood block and clave, which produce notes or sounds without an identifiable pitch.

111.1 There are two main categories of directly struck idiophones, concussion idiophones and 111.2 percussion idiophones.

111.1 Concussion idiophones or clappers.

111.2 Percussion idiophones.

The instrument is struck either with a non-sonorous object hand, stick, striker or against a non-sonorous object – human body, the ground.

111.11 Concussion sticks or stick clappers, nearly equal thickness and width.

111.12 Concussion plaques or plaque clappers, flat.


111.13 Concussion troughs or trough clappers [shallow].

Devil chase

111.14 Concussion vessels or vessel clappers [deep].


111.141 Castanets – Natural and hollowed-out vessel clappers.


Clash Cymbals

111.142 Cymbals – Vessel clappers with manufactured rim.

111.2 Percussion idiophones

The instrument is struck either with a non-sonorous object such as a hand, stick, striker or against a non-sonorous object or human body, the ground.

111.21 Percussion sticks.

111.211 Individual percussion sticks – Dhantal, Triangle,

111.212 Sets of percussion sticks in a range of different pitches combined into one instrument. All xylophones, as long as their sounding components are not in two different planes.

Gandingan a kayo
Glass marimba
Kulintang a kayo
Luntang or kwintangan kayo
Marimbaphone [also bowed]

111.22 Percussion plaques.

111.221 Individual percussion plaques.

111.222 Sets of percussion plaques – Examples are the Lithophone and also most Metallophones.

Kulintang a tiniok, kulintang a putao, or sarunay
Ranat ek lek
Ranat thum lek
Toy piano

111.23 Percussion tubes.

111.231 Individual percussion tubes.

Agung a tamlang
Krin or Kolokolos
Slit drum
Tubular Wood block

111.232 Sets of percussion tubes.

Tubular bells or chimes

111.24 Percussion vessels.

Crash cymbal
Hank drum
Hi-hat cymbal
Kagul or tagutok
Ride cymbal
Slit drums:
Slit gong
Splash cymbal
Steel-pan or steel drum
Udu [also an aerophone]
Wood block

111.241 Gongs – The vibration is strongest near the vertex.

111.241.1 Individual Gongs.

111.241.2 Sets of Gongs.

Agung or agong
Kulintang or kolintang

111.242 Bells – The vibration is weakest near the vertex.

Bell tree
111.242.1 Individual bells

111.242.11 Resting bells whose opening faces upward – Cowbell

111.242.12 Hanging bells suspended from the apex.

111.242.121 Hanging bells without internal strikers.

111.242.122 Hanging bells with internal strikers.


111.242.2 Sets of bells or chimes.

111.242.11 Sets of resting bells whose opening faces upward.

111.242.12 Sets of hanging bells suspended from the apex.

111.242.121 Sets of hanging bells without internal strikers.

111.242.122 Sets of hanging bells with internal strikers.

Indirectly struck 112 Indirectly stuck idiophones produce sound resulting from an indirect action of the performer as opposed to the directly struck idiophones. [1] The player himself does not go through the movement of striking; percussion results indirectly through some other movement by the player. This category is divided in two main sub-categories: shaken idiophones and scraped idiophones.

Shaken idiophones or rattles [112.1] Further information: Rattle percussion instrument –  The player makes a shaking motion

112.11 Suspension rattles – Perforated idiophones are mounted together, and shaken to strike against each other.

112.111 Strung rattles – Rattling objects are strung in rows on a cord.

112.112 Stick rattles – Rattling objects are strung on a bar or ring.

112.12 Frame rattles – Rattling objects are attached to a carrier against which they strike.

112.121 Pendant rattles.

112.122 Sliding rattles.

112.13 Vessel rattles – Rattling objects enclosed in a vessel strike against each other or against the walls of the vessel, or usually against both.


A lamellophone [also lamellaphone or linguaphone, from the Latin root lingua meaning “tongue”, i.e. a long thin plate that is fixed only at one end] is any of a family of musical instruments. The name comes from the Latin word lamella for “small metal plate” and the Greek word φωνή phonē for “sound, voice”.

The name derives from the way the sound is produced: the instrument has a series of thin plates, or “tongues”, each of which is fixed at one end and has the other end free. When the musician depresses the free end of a plate with a finger or fingernail, and then allows the finger to slip off, the released plate vibrates.

The lamellaphones are classified under category 12 in the Hornbostel–Sachs system for classifying musical instruments, plucked idiophones. These idiophones are equipped with one or more tongues or lamellae that produce sound by being plucked by the performer. There are two main categories of plucked idiophones, those that are in the form of a frame [121] and those that are in the form of a comb [122].

121 ~ The lamellae vibrate within a frame or hoop.

121.1 Clack idiophones or Cricri or Kromboi [Sarawak, Borneo] – The lamella is carved in the surface of a fruit shell, which serves as resonator.

121.2 jaw harps – The lamella is mounted in a rod or plaque-shaped frame and depends on the player’s mouth cavity for resonance.

121.21 Idioglot guimbardes – The lamella is of one substance with the frame of the instrument.

121.22 Heteroglot guimbardes – The lamella is attached to the frame.

121.221 Individual heteroglot jawharps.

121.222 Sets of heteroglot jawharps.

122 ~ In the form of a comb

Shona Mbira, Zimbabwe

122.11 Without resonator.

122.12 With resonator.

122.2 With cut-out lamellae.

Dan Moi

Name: Dan Moi.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Jawharps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Country: Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com.

Description: The Dàn-Moi is the traditional jaw-harp of the Meo [Hmung] people in Vietnam. Made of a thing brass and carried in a bamboo case decorated with brightly coloured fabric. The Vietnamese name Dan-Moi literally translates as “instrument of the lips”.

As such, these instruments became very popular in the tourist market. These are mass produced in factories rather then by hand, dan-moi are available in a variety of sizes and style.

Modern đan-moi are, sturdy and durable in construction. They, are much more precise in playing and tuning than their traditional counterparts. International demand for these jaw-harps is increasing.



Name: Cajita.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Box.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.11
Country: Lima, Peru.
Region: South > America.
Project: By Graeme Gibson & Daniel Ouellet.

Description: The cajita [pronounced ca-hi-ta in Spanish] is a struck percussion idiophone, in the form of a wooden box having a lid attached by a hinge. This percussion instrument is unique to the area around Lima, and it is one of percussion instruments in the Afro-Peruvian music scene in and around Lima Peru. There are three sizes of this instrument, bass [bajo], medio [medium] and prima [smallest].



Name: Agidigbo.
Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Comb.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 122.1
Country: Nigeria.
Region: West Africa.

Description: The agidigbo is a large traditional plucked lamellaphone used by the Ọ̀yọ́ Yorùbá people of Nigeria. It has diffused to the Nago peoples of Benin and Lucumí people in Cuba, where it is known as the marímbula.

Five adjustable metal tongues are mounted on a large wooden box resonator. Measured to be 45 cm by 60 cm and 22 cm deep or larger. The instrument is played on the lap, suspended from the neck at waist level so that the tongues can be plucked with the fingers of either hand. Or resting on the floor with the player seated.

Playing Techniques: The instrument is played on the lap, suspended from the neck at waist level so that the tongues can be plucked with the fingers of either hand. Or resting on the floor with the player seated. The musician plucks the metal tongues of the instrument with his fingers. Producing very sonorous tones, as he accompanies a sekera, or waka or an apala band. The player wears a thick “ring,” usually a bottle neck, on his thumb, which he uses to tap the sides of the wooden box.

Factoid: Babatunde Olatunji famously plays an agidigbo on “Oyin Momo Ado” [Sweet as Honey], which is track 7 on his 1959 Drums of Passion album.

Citation: Bibliography: K.A. Gourlay, revised by Amanda Villepastour ; Discography: Babatunde Olatunji, “Oyin Momo Ado” sweet as honey] track 7, Drums of Passion 1959: Websites: Grove Music Dictionary Online / Agidigbo ;