Chapter 3. When does a structure become a musical instrument?


This chapter applies material from Chapter 2 to the question of percussion instruments, and to the particular question of how a tuned percussion instrument differs from a non-tuned one. It all hinges on the pattern of resonant frequencies associated with the vibration modes.

Section 3.2 gives some background on the vibration behaviour of different types of structure, then a variety of tuned percussion instruments are investigated: xylophones, church bells, Caribbean steel pans and tuned drums of various kinds. In each case, sound examples are given so that you can hear directly the effect of tuning, or not tuning, the relevant resonance frequencies.