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Pointless percussion?

Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎06-11-2007

Pointless percussion?

I enjoy watching a lot of music videos on YouTube... I use headphones, and despite my heaing being less than good !  ... I can pick out most instruments souds, as anyone else should be able to... however... two items in the "percussion" department I fail to hear, and wonder if, with the amount of "noise" all the other instruments make, they are "worth the effort"...   I mean... if you are listening to a pop group/band... you can hear the drums and cymbals above the general crowd noise, and the sound of the guitars, and ( if they are included,) other orchestral instruments like trumpet violin,  you can even pick out and "follow" their progress throughtout the performance.

The two "instruments" that I am referring to are..... a small tube of plastic/metal, with beans or ball bearings inside, that the percussionist holds up like a "subway" sarnie, and shakes back and forth or up and down, in time to the beat of the music..


Pecussion bead tube.jpg


.. Huh  !... what on earth is he actually adding to the overall sound ?




The other is the small string of metal pipes, like a vertical Xylophone about a foot long, and the guy drags across another metal stick at various times in the music




.. again... no real benefit, as far as I can see/hear. 


  Even when the camera is zoomed in on them...


Yeah... the triangle.... that does sometimes feature, and is usually hit at a "quiet" time in the muscal score, so it is something that can be appreciated.. (do you have to pass and exam, to play the triangle, like the Pianoforte exams  ? )

Aspiring Champion
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Re: Pointless percussion?

Chimes, don't know about a metal stick, the last one I saw played was being hit more akin to a hammer....... But probably bigger than the one you saw. My hearing has always been on the blink, such that on occasions I do stick in the aids. Surprising what one misses sound wise. Maybe bigger chimes but these do sound Thumbs_Up Hans Zimmer .... about 22 secs in

She's using nigh on sledge hammers!

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
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Registered: ‎14-04-2007

Re: Pointless percussion?

Quite often the sudden removal of a particular background instrument is more noticeable than when it is playing.

You know something is missing but you're not quite sure what. That usually means it is in its correct place in the mix.

Sometimes an instrument, for example a tambourine, can be used for visual effect by a singer during an instrumental section of the song.


During my days working with a band on the mixing desk I was usually fighting their back-line and ending up with everything off the mix but the drums and vocals.

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Registered: ‎31-07-2007

Re: Pointless percussion?

Do a bit of google woogle, and you'll see that cymbals and triangles are within the percussion family and have techniques for playing and the usual grade exams and degree level courses. Drums and timpani are tunable too.

As to whether one hears an instrument, maybe it can be a case that even though one is unaware of hearing it as such, its physical absence somehow changes ones over all experience of the piece.

Going personal amd OT, for some years I have been a member of local choral societies. Early on I worried about pitching an "inside part", to be told I would hear it somewhere, somehow. I don't disagree.

No one has to agree with my opinion, but in the time I have left a miracle would be nice.
Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎06-11-2007

Re: Pointless percussion?

This video


Has two "bean shakers" in it... the first one, at... 19 Seconds   (0:19 )   can you hear him  ? ? ? 

the second one, at 1:32 .... can you hear him ? ? ? 

Also shows the "chimes" that I refer too,  hanging to his Left , below, what looks like a fan blade, but it is probably a "distressed" cymbal ! ! 

Aspiring Pro
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Re: Pointless percussion?

I sort of understand your point, but agree that sometimes the removal of one layer or timbre (even if you can't consciously pick it out) can make a difference to the overall sound.

If you've never seen it, I would recommend Bill Baileys Amazing Guide to the Orchestra. It's both funny and educational.