Percussion instruments can be divided into three main categories: idiophones which when played give out their own natural sound, membranophones, which depend for their sound on a membrane stretched over a resonator, and chordophones, involving struck strings. The traditional drum kit is a collection including both idiophones and membranophone. More recently it has also included electronic instruments, with both hybrid and entirely electronic kits now in common use.
More specifically, a standard modern kit (for a right-handed player), as used in popular music, taught in many music schools, and for which qualifications are available from Trinity College London and similar institutions consists of:
- A snare drum, mounted on a specialized stand, placed between the player’s knees and played with drum sticks (which may include rutes or brushes).
- A bass drum, played by a pedal operated by the right foot.
- A hi-hat stand and cymbals, operated by the left foot and played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick.
- One or more tom-tom drums, played with the sticks.
- One or more cymbals, played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick.
- A drum kit is usually played seated on a drum stool or throne.
Most drummers extend their kits from this basic pattern, adding more drums, more cymbals, and many other instruments. In some styles of music particular extensions are normal, for example double bass drums in heavy metal music. On the other extreme but more rarely, some performers omit elements from even the basic setup, also dependent on the style of music and individual preferences.
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