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Percussion Instruments, Including Drums, Cymbals, Xylophones, and More

Updated on October 27, 2014

Percussion Instruments, Including Drums, Cymbals, Xylophones, and More

Everything has a natural vibrating frequency. Cymbals and xylophones, along with other metallic instruments, have a natural vibrating frequencies. Drums involve vibrating the drumhead, and imparting the vibration to the interior of the drum itself.

Intro Image: This image is in public domain. It can be found on WP Clipart, link provided below.


Drums utilize the principle of vibrating strings to explain what happens on the drumhead. In fact, the drumhead is considered a two-dimensional string.

The disturbance moves along the string while additional wave crests and troughs follow in a continuous manner. When the disturbance reaches the end of the sting, it reflects. If the string length is just right, the reflected wave will cancel the forward moving wave at points called nodes, and reinforce the forward moving wave at points called anti-nodes. A standing wave will be set up. Whether or not a standing wave will set up depends on the string length and the speed the sound moves. The speed depends on the tension in the drumhead, and the vibrations can be rolling waves moving across the drumhead, or radial waves moving in and out from the center of the drumhead.

Chladni Figures

Chladni figures are the designs caused by nodes in a vibrating plate, such a cymbals or drumheads. These are extremely important. No matter how hard one strikes a node, the resonance will not be set up for any frequency associated with that node.

The vibrating drumhead sets up a vibration within the drum, which then sets up a vibration on the other drumhead. Without resonance, the sound will not be nearly as loud, and will not be what is desired.


Pacific Drums by DW 3PC EZ KIT CYMBAL PACK
Pacific Drums by DW 3PC EZ KIT CYMBAL PACK

Pacific Drums by DW EZ Cymbal Pack(Brass)


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