I'm trying to find the title for music containing all percussion instruments (pianos/xylophones not included) such as drum corps and marching band drum breakdowns. I'd basically like to listen to music completely consisting of drum beats. What would one call this genre? If I wanted to listen to this on Pandora, for instance, what would I put in the search field?

  • 1
    Well... Stomp is considered a musical.
    – crasic
    May 13, 2011 at 9:17
  • A famous modernist piece that uses only non-pitched percussion is Ionisation by Varèse. Well, it has piano, but the players just beat on the strings inside, so I don't think that counts. Jul 21, 2014 at 18:00
  • A term used often in marching bands is a drum cadence. While they technically can include pitched percussion, they very often do not.
    – trlkly
    Sep 2, 2014 at 22:20

5 Answers 5


Percussion, by definition, includes pitched percussion. So it sounds like you're looking specifically for "non pitched percussion music".

Some descripting terms that come to mind might be drum circle, drum line, rhythm music, street beats, african drumming.

  • Look for "percussion ensemble".
    – user1044
    Aug 25, 2011 at 2:48
  • 1
    @Wheat Percussion Ensemble instrumentation usually includes pitched percussion instruments such as marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, tubular bells, orchestra bells, and timpani. You're right that instrumentations without those instruments still might be labeled "percussion ensemble," but that won't help to exclude the pitched instruments.
    – NReilingh
    Aug 25, 2011 at 3:12
  • "atonal percussion ensemble"?
    – naught101
    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:56
  • atonal music can still use pitched instruments - it just isn't based on a tonal centre or key.
    – bdsl
    Nov 28, 2015 at 0:43

See also percussion ensemble and drum troupe.


I would just call it "Percussion music". Google does seem to return results for that.


I was wondering the same thing a while ago. So I am adding some recommendations for people searching this type of music

-Steve Reich- He does various types of "experimental, minimal" music, but anything titled "Drumming" is percussion only

-John Cage Percussion works

-Xenakis- Percussion works

  • 1
    In Steve Reich's case, also "clapping", and in John Cage's call also "prepared piano", which were initially invented with percussion in mind.
    – Aaron
    Feb 19, 2021 at 20:35

I would start on Pandora searching for an actual percussion ensemble. A good start would be So Percussion. Then continue to like their music.

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