Which type of drum is a pitched percussion instrument: Reveal!

by Madonna

In the vast world of percussion instruments, there exists a fascinating subset known as pitched percussion drums. These remarkable instruments not only provide rhythmic foundation but also offer melodic capabilities that allow percussionists to create enchanting musical melodies. In this article, we delve into the realm of pitched percussion drums, uncovering their unique characteristics and exploring their harmonic possibilities. From the resonant tones of the marimba and vibraphone to the mystical sounds of the hang drum and steel pan, we embark on a journey to understand the captivating musicality of these instruments.

I. Types of high-pitched drums

Pitched percussion drums, also known as melodic percussion instruments, are a category of drums that produce definite pitches when struck. These instruments possess distinct pitches or are capable of producing a range of melodic tones, setting them apart from non-pitched percussion instruments. Let’s explore some notable examples of pitched percussion drums:



The marimba, a large wooden xylophone, is renowned for its warm and resonant tones. Its wooden bars, struck with mallets, produce a range of pitches that can be sustained and articulated. The marimba’s expressive potential and melodic versatility make it a staple in orchestral settings and contemporary music genres.



The vibraphone, similar in appearance to the xylophone, features metal bars that produce a shimmering and ethereal sound when struck with mallets. Its unique attribute lies in its motor-driven rotating discs that create a vibrato effect, adding a captivating dimension to its melodic capabilities.


Hang Drum:

The hang drum, a relatively recent invention, has gained popularity for its hauntingly beautiful and meditative sound. Consisting of two concave metal hemispheres, it produces resonant and harmonic tones when struck with the hands or mallets. The hang drum’s rich tonal palette evokes a sense of serenity and introspection.

Steel Pan:

Originating from Trinidad and Tobago, the steel pan, also known as the steel drum, is a true marvel of musical ingenuity. Crafted from repurposed oil barrels, it produces an array of melodic tones when struck with rubber-tipped mallets. Its vibrant and rhythmic sound has become synonymous with Caribbean music.

II. Unique Construction and playing technique

Pitched percussion drums boast unique construction and playing techniques that contribute to their melodic potential.

Resonators and Tubes:

Many pitched percussion instruments, such as the marimba and vibraphone, feature resonators or tubes beneath the bars. These tubes amplify and sustain the sound, enhancing the instrument’s tonal qualities and allowing for melodic expression.

Mallets and Sticks:

Different mallets and sticks are used to strike the bars or surfaces of pitched percussion drums, each producing distinctive tonal characteristics. Variations in mallet hardness, size, and material can affect the attack, sustain, and timbre of the instrument, providing the percussionist with a range of expressive possibilities.

Hand Techniques:

Some pitched percussion drums, like the hang drum, are played using hand techniques. The drummer’s fingers and palms create subtle variations in touch and articulation, allowing for expressive control over the instrument’s melodic tones.

III. How to compose and perform

Pitched percussion drums offer percussionists the opportunity to compose and perform melodies, expanding their role beyond rhythm.


Percussionists can compose intricate melodic lines, harmonies, and chord progressions using pitched percussion instruments. The ability to create musical melodies allows for collaboration with other melodic instruments and opens doors to a broader range of musical genres.

Ensemble Performance:

Pitched percussion instruments frequently feature in ensemble settings, such as orchestras, percussion ensembles, and chamber groups. They contribute melodic counterpoints, harmonies, and solos, enriching the overall musical texture and creating captivating musical interplay.

Solo Performance:

Solo performances on pitched percussion drums showcase the instrument’s melodic potential and the percussionist’s technical prowess. Musicians can captivate audiences with virtuosic displays of melody, rhythm, and expression, highlighting the unique capabilities of these instruments.

IV. Are drums a popular percussion instrument?

Yes, drums are one of the most popular and widely recognized percussion instruments. They are used in various genres of music, including rock, pop, jazz, funk, and many others. Drums provide a rhythmic foundation for a musical piece and can add energy, dynamics, and intensity to the overall sound. They come in different sizes and types, such as bass drums, snare drums, tom-toms, and cymbals, each with its own unique sound and role within a drum set or percussion ensemble. Additionally, drums are often a central part of many cultural and traditional music styles around the world.


In this musical exploration, we have delved into the world of pitched percussion, discovering the melodic potential within drums. From the commanding tones of the timpani to the enchanting sounds of the hang drum, these instruments expand the sonic possibilities and add a unique dimension to the percussive landscape. Embracing the power of drums to produce melody and pitch, we have unveiled a captivating aspect of these instruments that demands further exploration and appreciation.


You may also like


Musicalinstrumentworld is a musical instrument portal. The main columns include piano, guitar, ukulele, saxphone, flute, xylophone, oboe, trumpet, trombone, drum, clarinet, violin, etc.

Copyright © 2023