Percussion could be loosely described as anything that can be struck or shaken, and it can be fairly said to be the oldest of all the instruments. Modern percussionists and composers have expanded on the performer's role, to include whistles, sirens, using bows on cymbals, break and drop glass, and a variety of other effects that give the modern percussionist plenty to do. Composers have been enthusiastic to embrace this new role, and much new music contains special notation, and unique requirements, that seem to give the percussion section the role of playing anything left over after Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Keyboards, and Vocalists, on the score.

We list but a few of the thousands of percussive variations here, that are considered common to the modern orchestra.