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I know that unpitched percussion instruments use the percussion/neutral clef. However, I was wondering what clefs are used for pitched percussion instruments. Are treble, tenor, alto and bass clef all used or are there any that are not ever used when notating pitched percussion?

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Most pitched percussion is written on a treble clef staff. Vibraphone, chimes (tubular bells), and steel drums sound as written. Xylophone also uses a treble staff, but it sounds an octave higher than written. Glockenspiel (orchestral bells) and crotales sounds two octaves higher than written.

Exceptions: Timpani parts are written in bass clef. Marimba parts are often written like a piano part, that is on a grand staff (two staves - one bass clef and one treble clef).

I've never seen alto or tenor clefs used for percussion instruments.

  • Steel drums? Thought they were just played! Most players don't need music! – Tim Jan 30 at 21:48
  • @Tim - there is a lot of music written for steel pans. Steelbands and orchestras of various sizes exist, and those players aren't just improvising ... somebody is writing those parts! – Peter Jan 30 at 21:56
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Music for pitched percussion instruments can be notated on a staff with the same treble and bass clefs used by many non-percussive instruments.

The term pitched percussion is now preferred to the traditional term tuned percussion:

Some percussion instruments, such as the timpani and glockenspiel, are almost always used as pitched percussion.

Some percussion instruments, and particularly many types of bell and closely related instruments, are sometimes used as pitched percussion, and at other times as unpitched percussion.

Keyboard percussion, instruments such as the glockenspiel and tubular bells arranged in a particular way (but not including the celesta and other keyboard instruments despite the name). Melodic percussion, instruments used to produce several different pitches.

Everything of this answer is cited from wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percussion_instrument

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitched_percussion_instrument

  • This doesn't address the OP's question. There is no mention of which clefs they read from. – Peter Jan 30 at 21:31
  • I can read: „Are treble, tenor, alto and bass clef all used or are there any that are not ever used?“ – Albrecht Hügli Jan 30 at 21:34
  • And the answer is: „Music for pitched percussion instruments can be notated on a staff with the same treble and bass clefs.“ (This implicites that the other clefs are not used. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 30 at 21:42

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