The 1700s and 1800s saw small percussion instruments such as cymbals and triangles coming into use in the orchestral setting, though again largely in a supporting role. It wasnt until later that percussion instruments were accorded a more equal footing with other instruments within the context of the orchestra.
In almost all types of music, percussion plays a fundamental role. In a military parade, it is the strike of the bass drum that holds the soldiers in step and at a normal speed, and it is the snare that endows that crisp, vital air to the tune of a troop. In traditional jazz, one almost instantly thinks of the distinguishing rhythm of the hi-hats or the ride cymbal when the word andquot;swingandquot; is uttered. In more current popular music genres, it is almost impossible to name at least three or four rock, hip-hop, rap, funk, punk, techno, grunge, alternative and blues songs that don?t have some kind of percussive beat maintaining the tune in time.
There are even musical ensembles which perform works consisting entirely of percussion instruments. The range of percussion instruments is varied enough that compositions can express melody, harmony and rhythm using only percussive elements and of course, these performances are quite a sight to behold.