Agogo Bells

A pair of cone-shaped bells attached to a u-shaped handle
Beater: Any fairly hard beater
Can be damped (with the thumb) to produce a drier sound.
Agogo bells:
Single note

Bell Tree

Small bells suspended concentrically around a pole.
Beater: Hard beaters
Individual notes can be sounded, though these are unpredictable in pitch, but the standard technique is a two-handed glissando.
Bell tree:
Long stroke
Short stroke
Single hit


Cowbells come in various sizes and can be rack mounted
Beater: Medium hard beaters or snare sticks.
Single hit
Single hit

Cymbals (clash)

Orchestral clash cymbals have leather straps through the middle for the hands and measure between 14 and 30 inches in diameter
Beater: Hands
Clash cymbals have a variety of techniques, including quiet clashes and swishes, produced by rubbing the faces together.
Clash cymbals:

Cymbals (suspended)

Suspended cymbals come in a large range of sizes and types
Beater: Soft or medium beaters.
Sizzle cymbals:
Long notes:
Roll, damped
An improvisation on cymbals

Hand Cymbals (Chinese)

Small Chinese handheld clash cymbals of varying sizes
Beater: Hands
Not to be confused with the Chinese cymbal of the suspended type
Chinese hand cymbals:
Low pattern
High pattern
High hit
Low hit




Jingles or Sleigh Bells

A collection of pellet bells attached to a leather handle and shaken
Beater: Hands
Very difficult to pick up and put down quietly!

Mahler: 'Symphony No. 4' (opening)

Single hit



Spring Coil

A large spring
Beater: Hard or metal beaters.
Single strokes or glissando.
Spring coil:
Two hits
One stroke






Tam-tam (Tamtam)

Tam-tams (which are unpitched gongs) come in a range of sizes, from 15cm to 1m in diameter.


The central beater depicted is usual. Tam-tams may also be bowed and scraped carefully with metal objects. Never use xylophone or wooden bass drum beaters on a tam-tam.
Tam tam:
Note duration:
Quiet strike
Loud strike
Very loud strike
Tapped pattern

Thai Gong

A gong with a plateau head, which bends the pitch when struck.
Beater: Soft to medium beaters.
Thai gong:
Loud strike
Very loud strike


A single rod bent into a triangular shape.


Can be damped (with the thumb) to produce a drier sound.
Triangle sizes:
Single hit
Tremolo, damped
Undamping and damping
'March' pattern
'Gallop' pattern

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at]