Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beyond the Kit: Triangle

Another under-appreciated, misunderstood piece of metal. The triangle is a staple of the concert percussion section, and knowing how to get a good sound is an absolute must for every percussionist. In addition, triangle is used from classical to rock, and everywhere in between.

There is a lot of debate as to which size or style of triangle is best, which kind of beaters produce the best tone, and which "leg" or part of the triangle should be played. And don't even get me started about the angle at which the beater should strike the triangle.

Three basic techniques should be mastered by the aspiring triangle-ist: single strokes, dampening and rolls. Thankfully, you don't need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Click here for an in-depth introduction to triangle by Neil Grover and Garwood Whaley (two names that are worth Googling, by the way), and posted at the Percussive Arts Society* ( website.

Enjoy the following video, and listen carefully for the excellent triangle work.

One tip I'll offer is the presentation of the triangle while playing. You'll be holding the triangle clamp with your hand in a C-shape, similar to holding a glass of water. As you prepare to play your notes, hold the triangle up high enough that the audience can see it, and you can look at the conductor just to the side of the instrument, or just a little above. Your playing will be more precise, and the audience will "hear" your notes better and clearer if they can see the instrument and the playing motion.

Playing triangle is a lot of fun, and can add immensely to the effect of the music.

Happy triangle-ing!

*If you're even a little bit serious about drumming and/or percussion, you should seriously consider joining PAS. A student membership is very inexpensive, and the benefits are amazing and lifelong.

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