Type: Struck Percussion > Idiophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 112.211
Description: A wood block is a small slit drum made from a single piece of wood and used as a struck percussion instrument. The term generally signifies the Western orchestral instrument, though it is related to the ban time-beaters used by the Han Chinese. Alternative names sometimes used in ragtime and jazz are clog box and tap box. In orchestral music scores, wood blocks may be indicated by the French; bloc de bois or tambour de bois, in German; Holzblock or Holzblocktrommel or Italian cassa di legno [Blades and Holland 2001].
The orchestral wood-block instrument of the West is generally made from teak or another hardwood. The dimensions of this instrument vary, although it is either a rectangular or cylindrical block of wood with one or sometimes two longitudinal cavities (Blades and Holland 2001). It is played by striking it with a stick, which produces a sharp crack (Montagu 2002b). Alternatively, a rounder mallet, soft or hard, may be used, which produces a deeper-pitched and fuller “knocking” sound.
In a drum kit, a woodblock was traditionally mounted on a clamp fixed to the top of the rear rim of the bass drum.