Temple blocks are a type of percussion instrument consisting of a set of woodblocks. It is descended from the muyu, an instrument originating from eastern Asia, where it is commonly used in religious ceremonies.[1][2]

Temple blocks
Percussion instrument
Other names
  • Tone blocks
  • skulls
  • wooden bells
  • dragons' mouths
Classification Percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification111.242.221
(Sets of hanging bells without internal strikers)
Related instruments

Description Edit

It is a carved hollow wooden instrument with a large slit. In its traditional form, the muyu, the shape is somewhat bulbous like a bell, but modern instruments are often rectangular in shape.[3] They are generally played in sets of four or more to give a variety of pitches, in which they are also known as "tone blocks".[4] In Western music, they can be traced back to early jazz drummers where they were used as exotic instruments before being later adopted into widespread orchestral use.[5] An updated version of the instrument made by Latin Percussion, known as "granite blocks", is made out of plastic rather than wood.[6]

The sound of temple blocks is similar to that of normal woodblocks, although temple blocks have a darker, more "hollow" timbre.[7] In their most common configuration of five, temple blocks are typically tuned to a pentatonic scale. Chromatic and diatonic sets have also been made.[8] Despite this, they are not commonly treated as pitched percussion.[9]

Temple blocks are often used as sound effects, such as in Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" and "Sleigh Ride", where they mimic a ticking clock and a galloping horse, respectively.[10] They can also be used to reinforce the melody. John Barnes Chance's Incantation and Dance and Variations on a Korean Folk Song both have temple blocks introduce and double the motifs that appear within the music, with the latter using the pentatonic nature of the temple blocks to evoke the sound of the Orient.[11]

References Edit

  1. ^ Blades, James (1992). Percussion Instruments and Their History (Rev. ed.). Bold Strummer. p. 391. ISBN 978-0-933224-71-1. OCLC 28230162.
  2. ^ Beck, John H. (2014). Encyclopedia of Percussion (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-415971-23-2. OCLC 939052116.
  3. ^ Cook, Gary (2018). Teaching Percussion (3rd ed.). Cengage. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-337-6722-2-1. OCLC 1100674819.
  4. ^ Kalani (2008). All About Hand Percussion. Alfred Music. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7390-4964-8. OCLC 227032333.
  5. ^ Cirone, Anthony J.; Grover, Neil; Whaley, Garwood (2006). The Art of Percussion Playing (1st ed.). Meredith Music. p. 88. ISBN 1-57463-047-4. OCLC 70782197.
  6. ^ Kight, Jacob Marcus (2020). "The Rearrangement and Assignment of Wind Band Percussion Parts for Optimal Performance". Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Florida State University. p. 8.
  7. ^ Skidmore, David (2012). "Wood / Temple Blocks: Vic Firth Percussion 101". YouTube (video). Vic Firth. 0:38.
  8. ^ Holland, James (2005). Practical Percussion: A Guide to the Instruments and Their Sources (Rev. ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4616-7063-6. OCLC 681550519.
  9. ^ Black, Dave; Gerou, Tom (1998). Essential Dictionary of Orchestration. Alfred Music. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-4574-1299-8. OCLC 1120720854.
  10. ^ Kruckenberg, Sven (2002). The Symphony Orchestra and Its Instruments. Chartwell Books. p. 197. ISBN 0-7858-1522-8. OCLC 51725370.
  11. ^ Linaberry, Robin (2021). Strategies, Tips & Activities for the Effective Band Director. Taylor & Francis. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-003-03419-3. OCLC 1200832393.