orig. unknown, worldwide A percussion instrument is an object or set of objects used to create musical rhythm. Sound is produced by striking with the hand or an implement, such as a hammer, mallet or stick, or by shaking, rubbing or producing vibration by other means.
Many string instruments, such as the piano and tar, can be considered percussion instruments, as well. The voice is also often used to create a beat in many musical forms, from Azerbaijani mugham to popular American a cappella music.
Percussion instruments are found the world over, and in so many forms, that it is assumed that they emerged in many different places simultaneously. Most likely, the first form of percussion was the clapping of hands. The word "percussion" derives from the Latin verb "percussio," meaning "to beat" or "to strike."
The Silk Road Ensemble's repertoire features countless percussion instruments, new and ancient, Eastern and Western, simple and elaborate. Among many other instruments, the Ensemble features daira (Middle Eastern frame drums), tabla, jang-go and marimba (African and South-American instrument composed of wooden "keys" or bars that are struck with mallets). Bowls, chimes, blocks, and other percussive noise-making devices are also frequently employed.