Percussion Instruments in an Orchestra

Andrew Parker
Sep 11, 2022

This may come as a surprise but did you know that an orchestra has around forty-four instruments? That’s right, now orchestras do seem big, you may not have thought that it was so big. With that said, there are a number of different instruments that make up an orchestra. So much so that there are in fact different groups within the orchestra. This includes the string section made of violins, cellos, and violas and then you get the percussion section. You may not be too familiar with this section of the orchestra but it actually plays an important role within the orchestra.

Hands playing a homemade wooden xylophone as part of a contemporary gamelan orchestra

Getty Images / Moment / Carlina Teteris

You may want to know how many instruments are within the percussion section of an orchestra but it really isn’t that easy. You see there are over five hundred percussion instruments and they are constantly changing. With that said there really isn’t one particular number of how many percussion instruments there are within an orchestra. Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any information regarding percussion instruments. Percussion instruments are the largest family within an orchestra. You see, percussion instruments keep the beat, and rhythm, make special sounds, and add excitement. Here’s a fun fact, unlike any other instrument, a percussionist will usually play more than one instrument in a piece of music.

Now because the percussion group is the largest family within the orchestra, there are a number of different instruments in it. This includes gongs, the piano, snare drum, bass drum, the xylophone and so much more. When researching percussion instruments within an orchestra, you may notice that there are in fact some instruments that you wouldn’t really consider t be percussion instruments such as the piano. Many people think that the piano is a part of the string family because well it has strings but it is in fact part of the percussion family.