THE ORCHESTRA: A USER'S MANUAL

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  Philharmonia

PERCUSSION

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The timpani are something of a special case, since they are the only percussion instrument present in nearly all orchestral music, and they are played by a specialist player who will not normally play any other percussion instrument.

After that, there may be any number of percussion instruments in a composition. It is important that the composer or orchestrator pay attention to the physical requirements of the section, and in particular the choreography of both players and beaters. A common mistake is to allow insufficient time for players to change instrument or pick up new beaters.

Use the links on the left to sample various percussion scorings from the Philharmonia's recorded archive.


Tuned

COMPOSER
WORK
CD
EXCERPT
COMMENTS
Gustav Holst
The Planets: Uranus
Philharmonia/Gardiner
DG445 860-2
A vigorous timp solo leading to a tutti.
Camille Saint-Saens
Carnival des Animaux: Fossiles
Philharmonia/Yu
IMP 30366 00012
A celebrated xylophone solo.

 

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Untuned

COMPOSER
WORK
CD
EXCERPT
COMMENTS
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 4
Philharmonia/Zander
Telarc 2CD-80555
Sleigh bells, or jingles, with two flutes.
Igor Stravinsky
The Rite of Spring
Philharmonia/Salonen
Sony SK45796
Dampened tam-tam, joined by guiro, leading to a tutti climax.
Magnus Lindberg
Fresco
Philharmonia/Salonen
Sony Classical SK 89810
Tam-tams, metal plates and bowed Chinese cymbals, with brass and other instruments picking up the timbres.
Claude Debussy
Prélude a l'après-midi d'un faune
Philharmonia/Cantelli
Testament SBT 1011

A celebrated passage using antique cymbals.

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