The role of Turkish percussion in the history and development of the orchestral percussion section
The fascination of eighteenth century Western composers with the Eastern percussion instruments of the Turks was the impetus behind the initial use of percussion instruments in the orchestra. Consequently, the era beginning in the late eighteenth-century when percussion instruments were first included deserves reexamination. The objectives of this monograph include the examination of the manner in which composers first utilized Turkish percussion (excluding kettledrums) in the orchestra. This study then investigates the subsequent history of these instruments and manner in which composers utilized them, leading to their recognition as musical instruments in their own right. The findings of this study provide a resource for both performers and conductors who seek to recreate authentic performances of music from that era. Research methods included the examination of existing primary and largely secondary sources that included musical scores and newspaper articles of the period. The organology of these instruments and their performance practices were studied, aided by iconographical evidence of the instruments and their performance. Salient findings of this study were that the percussion instruments first incorporated into the late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century orchestra consisted of the bass drum, cymbals, and triangle. The Turkish crescent and tambourine was also occasionally added. Some of these instruments entered the orchestra with a specialized performance practice. The bass drum, for example, was struck by one hand on the side of the drum's head with a wooden beater; the other hand struck the opposite head with a switch most often made of twigs, called a ruthe. Orchestral composers such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven were among the first to incorporate Turkish percussion instruments, using them as a homogeneous group that produced a characteristic tone color through the simultaneous playing of each instrument, reminiscent of their use in military bands. Each Turkish percussion instrument experienced changes in design that resulted in a more independent use of each instrument. Nineteenth-century composers such as Berlioz wrote parts for percussion and timpani integral to the harmonic and textural structure of their orchestral compositions. Percussion instruments have since become a frequent focal point of orchestration.