The Orchestra is a mysterious beast. Developed over hundreds of years from instruments with diverse origins; assembling massive numbers of musicians playing instruments that require many years of practise to master; capable of changes in sound and colour that range from a whisper to a jet engine...

When it all comes together, the results can be startling, but how does it all work?  And where did it all come from?

Karl Steven continues his four-part investigation of the orchestra, this time delving with the experts into the exotic and far flung origins of the percussion family, which seems to include just about everything that’s ever been hit with a stick.

The Secret Life of the Orchestra: Percussion
The Orchestra Percussion Chris O Connor by Sacha Stejko
Percussionist Chris O'Connor. Photo by Sacha Stejko.

Music played in this show

The Secret Life of the Orchestra: Percussion

Artist: Akademie Percussion Ensemble
Song: Spanish Dance No. 5
Composer: M. Moszkowski
Album: Akademie Percussion Ensemble Vol. 2
Label: Akademie Percussion Ensemble

Artist: Benny Goodman
Song: Sing, Sing, Sing
Composer: L. Prima
Album: The Essential Benny Goodman (Remastered)
Label: Sony BMG

Artist: James Carter & The Prisoners
Song: Po' Lazarus
Composer: traditional
Album: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Label: Mercury

Artist: The London Pops Orchestra
Song: Gaston
Composer: A. Menken/H. Ashman
Album: Magical Movie Music
Label: Unlimited Media

Artist: The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects Library
Song: Snare Drum Beat - Marching Tempo
Composer: N/A
Album: Cartoon Trax - 4
Label: The Hollywood Edge

Artist: Mehter
Song: Buna Er Meydani Derler
Composer: trad.
Album: Mehter Marsali - Bnd of Ottoman Military
Label: Cinar Muzik Yapim

Artist: Margarete Babinksy
Song: Rondo Alla Turca (From Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331)
Composer: W. A. Mozart
Album: Mozart Collection Vol. 2: Rondo Alla Turca
Label: Cobra Entertainment

Artist: Martin Denny
Song: The Girlfriend Of The Whirling Dervish
Composer: J. Mercer/H. Warren/A. Dubin
Album: Backup the Best of Martin Denny
Label: BackUp Best Sounds

Artist: Alexa Still & Gareth Farr
Song: KembangSuling
Composer: G. Farr
Album: Farr: Shadow of the Hawk - Cadenza - Kembang Suling
Label: Morrison Music Trust

Artist: Gamela Angklun, Mas Village
Song: Tujang Biru
Composer: traditional
Album: From Kuno to Kebyar: Balinese Gamelan Anklung
Label: Unspecified (iTunes)

Artist: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra & Ferenc Fricsay
Song: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125: IV. Presto
Composer: L. Beethoven
AlbumBeethoven 9th Symphony
Label: Pickwick Group

Artist: Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Song: Carnaval des Animaux XII. Fossiles
Composer: Saint-Saëns
Album: Bernstein Century - Children's Classics: Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals, Britten: Young Person's Guide
Label: Sony BMG Music Entertainment

Artist: Steve Reich and Steve Reich & Musicians
Song: Sextet: 1st Movement
Composer: S. Reich
Album: Steve Reich: Sextet - Six Marimbas
Label: Nonesuch Records

Artist: Ian MacGregor & Scottish Pipe Band
Song: Drum Fanfare
Composer: trad.
Album: Scottish Pipes and Drums: Bagpipe Music of Scotland
Label: Legacy International

Artist: Stan Freberg
Song: The Yellow Rose Of Texas
Composer: trad.
Album: The Crazy World of Stan Freberg
Label: Bluebird Music

Artist: Henry Mancini
Song: Baby Elephant Walk
Composer: H. Mancini
Album: Midnight, Moonlight, ad Magic - The Very Best of Henry Mancini
Label: BMG Music

Artist Baby Dodds
Song: Spooky Drums No. 1
Composer: W. Dodds
Album: Talking and DrumSolos
Label: Smith & Co.

Artist: Buddy Rich & Max Roach
Song: Sing, Sing, Sing
Composer: L. Prima
Album: Rich vs. Roach - The Battle of the Bands and Drums
Label: Stardust Records

Artist: From Scratch
Song: Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor: 1. Trauermarcsh
Composer: P. Dadson
Album: Songs For Heroes
Label: Rattle

Artist: Gene Krupa
Song: Moonglow (feat. Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson)
Composer: E. deLange/Is. Mills/W. Hudson
Album: The Very Best Of (feat. Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson)
Label: Spider Music

Artist: BP Renegades Steel Orchestra
Song: Air On a G String
Composer: B. Mann/C. Weil
Album: The Golden Era
Label: Faluma

Artist: Tropical Angel Harps
Song: On Broadway
Composer: J. S. Bach
Album: Showcase: Steel Bands of Trinidad and Tobego
Label: Faluma

Artist: Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Song: Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra - Variation M - Moderato
Composer: H. Purcell/B. Britten
Album: Bernstein Century - Children's Classics: Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals, Britten: Young Person's Guide
Label: Sony BMG Music Entertainment

Artist: Ney Rosauro
Song: Concerto For Timpani: Horse Rise
Composer: N. Rosauro
Album: Ney Rosauro and the University of Miami Percussion Ensemble
Label: Cane Records

Artist: Alec Guiness
Song: Act IV Scene I
Composer: N/A
Album: Macbeth
Label: Screenland Productions

Artist: Tito Puente & His Orchestra
Song: El Rey Del Timbal
Composer: T. Puente
Album: BD Jazz: Tito Puente
Label: BDJazz