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Use the tabs below to find out about each section of the orchestra, watch video clips, and read interviews with musicians.

What is a percussion instrument? Well, in the simplest terms it's something you hit that isn't your brother or sister! This group of instruments is sometimes known as the kitchen department.

Untuned percussion instruments include the bass drum, side drum, anvils, triangles and jingles.

The bass drum makes a massive sound. Even when the full orchestra is playing above it, you can still feel its power. The drum is hit with a huge beater but can sometimes be played using the hand or fingers for special effect.

A percussionist has to play hundreds of instruments. Here are a few more...

Cymbals - made from metal, these can be big, small and even tiny.

Snare Drum - the snare drum adds great power to moments of excitment.

Bongos - often used in jazz, the bongos create a lively mood.

Tam Tam - this is like a huge cymbal. The sound gets louder after it is hit!

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Meet the orchestra

Alasdair Malloy, Purcussion
BBC Concert Orchestra

  • How old were you when you first started playing?
    I started the piano at five, the clarinet at nine, the bagpipes at eleven and percussion at fourteen years old.

  • Why did you choose this instrument?
    I've always been fascinated by instruments in general and have tried out hundreds. Discovering percussion was, for me, like entering Aladdin's cave.

  • Do you play any other instruments?
    Yes piano, clarinet, bagpipes and I am the only player of the glass harmonica in the UK and the inventor of 'The Incredible Harmonium.

  • What do you like most about playing in an orchestra? Is it fun?
    Apart from the music, which is the most brilliant thing about it, I love the friendships I've made and the humour of the orchestra. We all muck in together!

  • Do you play any other kind of music?
    I've recorded and performed with artists from all kinds of musical backgrounds including Björk, Pulp, Elton John and even the Spice Girls' first ever live performance!

  • What is your favourite music?
    Depends how I'm feeling.

  • Do you have any hobbies?
    I used to do all sorts of things before having children. Now all my spare time is for them.

  • What would you have been if you weren't a musician?
    Looking younger and healthier!

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