WikiProject iconMusical Instruments Template‑class
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WikiProject iconPercussion Template‑class
WikiProject iconThis template is within the scope of WikiProject Percussion, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of percussion on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
TemplateThis template does not require a rating on Wikipedia's content assessment scale.

Pre-determined and Non-pre-determined pitch[edit]

I don't understand what this means. For example, the triangle is listed under "Non-pre-determined pitch", whereas it obviously has a fixed pitch determined by its size and shape. The same is true of the cowbell. Elsewhere, many of the instruments listed under "Non-pre-determined pitch" seem to have no well-defined pitch at all, rather than a pitch that is "non-pre-determined", whatever that may mean. (talk) 03:53, 3 April 2010 (UTC).[reply]

What you were seeing there was vandalism. Now reverted. Varlaam (talk) 20:02, 25 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]


A flexatone is actually a tuned percussion instrument, capable of playing a melody. Khachaturian wrote the flexatone part notated on a treble clef, and here it is being ably performed: Jon (talk) 10:16, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Quite right, a flexatone can be used as either pitched or unpitched. Andrewa (talk) 06:17, 30 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]


Unsure whether, with the enormous number of percussion instrument articles and the number of instruments that can be used as either pitched or unpitched, this template will be useful in its current form. At least, some major updating necessary... perhaps just list types of percussion instruments, not all of them. Andrewa (talk) 06:19, 30 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

I have removed the automatic inclusion in Category:Percussion instruments. There are now classification-based subcategories, and most if not all instruments should be in several of these... Ideally at least four, one in each of the classification container categories. Andrewa (talk) 06:22, 30 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

It seems that trying to maintain these lists manually will be an impossible task. It would probably be better to have a template that includes the classification, as well as fields for remarks and so on, so the lists can be generated from all the articles. That would also allow the Percussion footer to remain up to date. MichiHenning (talk) 05:48, 4 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Unsure how this can be done, but I'm not familiar with the complex features of template coding. But it sounds like a very good idea. What do you have in mind, more specifically?
Maintaining the lists of instruments is exactly what the categories avoid.
Obviously I wasn't watching this talk page, apologies! I also note that this footer is part of WikiProject Musical Instruments, so we probably can't abandon it completely.
But changes are needed. The current content is arbitrary and counterproductive, and the task of maintaining it unmanageable.
Actually, this may be true of all of the WikiProject Musical Instruments footers! But my concern is just to fix the percussion one. Andrewa (talk) 07:13, 3 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I'm a programmer, but I've never written a Wikipedia template before, so I don't know how hard it would be to do. But the idea would be that the footer would be generated automatically from all articles that have the category Category:Percussion instruments or any subcategory thereof. The same could probably be done for the various list articles. MichiHenning (talk) 08:41, 3 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
That would be great for the list articles! I put some work into them earlier and there is a great deal still to be done. Unsure whether it's practical to maintain them manually. Not without greater participation.
But the footer needs both design and implementation IMO. The current setup, even if maintained somehow, is unhelpful for several reasons. Listing all percussion instruments is probably not wise; Category:Pitched percussion currently contains 65 articles and the template lists only 30 for example, and Category:Unpitched percussion only 37, while the template lists 62, but there are many more unpitched percussion instruments than that. There are also some problematical ones... bell is the most obvious case of an instrument used both as pitched (change ringing) and unpitched (most other church bells).
Seeing this division between pitched and unpitched as the primary division of percussion is archaic even in an orchestral context, and has always been confined to this context, and many of our readers are aware of this, see this diff.
Nor does every article in the category tree below Percussion instruments describe a particular percussion instrument. We'd need to set up a structure that did, and have articles such as unpitched percussion instrument or idiophone in separate categories to the intrument articles. And how about drum, cymbal, and rattle (percussion instrument)? If they are regarded as instrument articles, where do snare drum, splash cymbal and maracas fit in?
My immediate reaction is that the number of links in the footer should be drastically reduced, to provide a route to each of these articles but not always a direct link. Perhaps direct links to overview articles such as drum and cymbal, orchestral percussion, world percussion, articles such as that. These overview articles should then be rich in links, both in flowing text and in bulleted, columned lists, to cover all the lower level articles.
The Percussion footer, then, would appear on all percussion instrument articles. Would it also appear on articles such as grip (percussion), drum stick, drum hardware? If so, then it should link back to overview articles of these areas as well. Andrewa (talk) 21:50, 3 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Have a look at and tell me what you think. Andrewa (talk) 10:37, 4 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
That looks really good. I guess the trick would be to have as much as possible in this footer generated from categories in the articles, so it stays up to date automatically. I have no idea how easy/hard that would be at the moment. MichiHenning (talk) 21:33, 4 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Done. I was concerned that the old one [1] had gong and bell both listed as pitched, and some other worries. And it was last updated fairly recently [2]. Hopefully, having the word examples will discourage others from adding many obscure instruments, which IMO is a waste of time as we'll never cover even a small proportion of them. There are a lot of percussion instruments!
If the lists can be generated from the categories, fine, we can revisit the Examples model. For now I've added a link to each of the three categories concerned labelled Comprehensive list. Andrewa (talk) 00:45, 5 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Other possibilities[edit]

I'm thinking of adding yet another group to link to grip (percussion), drum hardware and some similar important miscellaneous articles.

Remembering that the function of this template is navigation, as opposed to the infobox, which is there to provide information. Andrewa (talk) 00:45, 5 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

To include or not to include everything[edit]


I added two percussion instruments to this template, only to see @Why? I Ask remove them immediately. I would like to re-open the old discussion about the criteria for inclusion. Do we want a selective or a comprehensive template? If we want a selective template, on what basis do we include or exclude instruments from this list? Ruud Buitelaar (talk) 01:02, 5 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry for the late reply, but my selection criteria has been an informal overview of what most percussion instrument handbooks list and write about. Obviously the larger encyclopedias list everything, but an upward of 500 entries is not conducive to a useful template. This is why we have the overview percussion template, for those looking for the common Latin, orchestral, or world percussion, and then specialized templates like Template:Plaque percussion idiophones or Template:Cymbals, which I think is where the look towards improvement should be made (creating and expanding such types). For how I have been doing my overview, there are many books which are standard in the literature (e.g., Percussion Instruments - Purchasing, Maintenance, Troubleshooting and More (ISBN 9781574634518), Encyclopedia of Percussion (ISBN 9781317747673), etc.). I have basically been looking at what is all out there written about percussion, and seeing what gets the most. For example, the steel pan or bodhrán, which themselves are outside of the typical orchestral percussion scope, have twenty dozen books each on their history or how to play them, but something like the atumpan is lucky to even get mentioned in a book that strives to be as comprehensive as possible. Basically, I think there needs to be a decent amount of tertiary or secondary sourcing that shows: "Hey, this percussion instrument is pretty well understood by both the popular and scholarly community". I do think there can be things added (e.g., the pandeiro or taiko), because it is still an incomplete template, but I do not think adding "European frame drum version #28", "African goblet drum version #19", or every type of common drum set cymbal is helpful, if being completely blunt. Why? I Ask (talk) 04:29, 5 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for your comprehensive answer. I agree that a navigation box with 500 uncategorized items does not serve its purpose. Maybe the way forward is to make the template more complex, for example like the Music template (in which, by the way, there is nothing on musical instruments). Or use the template to refer to lists and general articles on different types of percussion instruments. I have just published an edit, to include the "List of percussion instruments by type" in the first row, to illustrate the last idea. Hope you like it. I will not work further on this template, unless I come across more orphaned articles about percussion instruments. At least now I know a bit more about how to de-orphan them. Ruud Buitelaar (talk) 23:16, 5 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Oh yeah, and seperate question... where should gong go? Should it be unpitched or pitched... Why? I Ask (talk) 04:35, 5 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I imagine you know the answer better than I do: It depends. There are pitched and unpitched gongs. Ruud Buitelaar (talk) 23:18, 5 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Gongs are usually pitched; unpitched gongs (in Western art music at least) tend to be called tam-tams. — Jon (talk) 02:15, 6 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]
And tam-tams are also a name for some types of African drums, funnily enough. But that still doesn't answer the question because tam-tams are still considered gongs, so adding both "gong" and "tam-tam" seems a bit misleading. Why? I Ask (talk) 03:48, 6 September 2023 (UTC)[reply]