Definition and background:
A common sub-classification of percussion instruments that is comprised of instruments that are typically used to perform the rhythmic foundations of a composition. Most of these instruments are untuned (unable to produce a specific pitch). They are notated with normal rhythmic notation, but each instrument is placed on a separate line. Untuned percussion instruments include: Bass Drum, Crash Cymbals, Gong, Snare Drum, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-tam, Tenor Drum, Tom-Toms.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary