For percussion in the symphony orchestra heard basically everything that is not one of the other major groups of instruments ( woodwinds, brass, strings) can be assigned. Exceptions are the drums and instruments such as the harp or piano, which are taken over by specialists.
To the basis of the striking mechanism to count the bass drum, concert drum, cymbals and triangle. Dive prominently on for the first time in pieces such as Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, later in Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Both times they support the - for that time - strange sounds in the opera house and concert hall. With Mozart, it is the supposed adaptation of " Turkish " music in Beethoven a reference to military sounds. In the Italian opera (especially Verdi) this combination, however, already part of the standard and contributes significantly to the penetrating power of the tutti sound.
Mozart described in letters to his father from August 1 and September 26, 1781 and July 20, 1782, the group of percussion ( triangle, cymbals, Turkish drum) with " türckischer Musick " ( Turkish music ). The term " percussion " as a term for percussion instruments he did not use; maybe there was not this word in the former parlance. An early Belegstelle be found in the " Music Alichen Conversations Handwörterbuch " by Gustav Schilling, Stuttgart 1856, keyword: " percussion instruments, including percussion ."
To date, the spectrum of the striking mechanism has steadily expanded. Important instruments such as the glockenspiel and other mallet instruments (xylophone, vibraphone, marimba), tubular bells, celesta, tam-tam, gong and a still growing number of effect tools ( ratchet, horn, Flexatone, thunder sheet, piston flute, guiro, rain wood, wind machine, etc.) have now become more or less -developed repertoire of a shock worker.
In compositions of contemporary music even unusual tone generator such as vacuum cleaners, typewriters or sirens are usually entrusted to the percussion register, even though they " beat " with nothing more to do in the strict sense.