5 Facts You Didnt Know About the Triangle Musical Instrument

Did you know that the triangle instrument didn’t always have a triangle shape?

The triangle percussion instrument is often overlooked in terms of training and coolness levels. But surprisingly, playing the triangle can be stressful for professional players as it is often considered a crucial part of a symphony.

In fact, making a mistake while playing the triangle can be quite embarrassing.

Triangles Used to Have Different Shapes

The origin of the triangle instrument is not clear, but the earliest ones depicted in historical documents date back to the 10th Century manuscript. The early triangles were often trapezoid in shape, and the equilateral triangle we know today was not common.

The ancient triangles were made of one continuous piece of metal, often with additional metal rings threaded through the bottom bar. Triangles have been used in religious ceremonies and artwork throughout Europe since the 14th Century.

The Triangle Became an Orchestral Instrument Because of the Turkish Military

In the 1700s, the Turkish royal family had an elite corps of bodyguards called the Janissaries. They were known for playing Janissary music, which heavily featured percussion instruments of all kinds. The Polish ruler Augustus II introduced Janissary music to Europe in 1720, which effectively introduced the triangle to the continent.

Composers such as Mozart and Beethoven began to incorporate the triangle, albeit sparingly, into their compositions.

The Triangle Took Almost a Century to Become a Popular Orchestral Instrument

The first prominent use of a triangle in European classical music dates back to February 17, 1855, when the triangle got its own solo in Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major. This caused much ridicule from critics, with one referring to the piece of music as the “Triangle Concerto.”

Triangles May Seem Easy, but the Pieces Written for Them are Complex

While anyone can hit a triangle with a stick, it is still a musical instrument that requires technique and practice. Most beaters are attached to the triangle, so you don’t have to worry about losing your sticks like drummers do.

However, the pieces written for the triangle are often complex and can take a lifetime to perfect.

According to journalist George Plimpton, who famously participated in every profession he wrote about, playing the triangle for the New York Philharmonic was the most terrifying experience of his career. This is coming from a man who played for the NFL’s Detroit Lions, competed in the PGA Tour, and even trained as an NHL goalie, all as an amateur.

Some musical compositions require the triangle to be mounted on a stand while the player uses two beaters. There are also various beaters and straps that can be used on the triangle, each affecting the tone, volume, and clarity of the sound produced. In certain cases, the triangle is suspended from fishing line to ensure a clear tone. In other cases, particularly in Latin and Cajun folk music, the triangle is held by hand to dampen specific notes in specific ways.

Despite its simplicity, the triangle is still being used in contemporary music. For example, in 2008, the Foo Fighters had their percussionist Drew Hester play triangle solos on their tour.

The triangle is an unassuming instrument that produces a clear, piercing sound that can cut through the sound of an entire orchestra. It’s easy to overlook, but hopefully, this article has inspired you to pay closer attention to this humble percussion instrument. And who knows, maybe you can add “Professional Triangle Player” to your list of career options!


1. What is a Triangle Instrument?

The Triangle Instrument is a percussion instrument that is made of a steel rod bent into a triangle shape. It is usually played with a metal beater, and produces a high pitched, ringing sound. It is often used in orchestral music, as well as in modern pop and rock music. Despite its simple appearance, it requires a great deal of skill and precision to play well.

2. Who invented the Triangle Instrument?

The exact origins of the Triangle Instrument are unclear, but it is believed to have been used in music for centuries. Some sources suggest that it may have originated in Africa or the Middle East, while others believe it may have been invented in Europe during the medieval period. Regardless of its origins, it has become an important part of many different musical traditions around the world.

3. What are some of the different techniques used to play the Triangle Instrument?

There are a variety of different techniques used to play the Triangle Instrument, depending on the style of music being performed. Some common techniques include striking the instrument with the beater at different points along the edges to produce different pitches, as well as dampening the sound by holding the instrument with the non-dominant hand. Skilled players may also use a variety of different beater types and techniques to produce a wider range of sounds.

4. How is the Triangle Instrument used in different types of music?

The Triangle Instrument is used in a wide variety of musical genres, from classical orchestral music to modern pop and rock. In orchestral music, it is often used to accentuate certain parts of the score, such as dramatic climaxes or transitions between sections. In jazz and other improvisational genres, it may be used more creatively, as a solo instrument or as part of a larger percussion ensemble. In pop and rock music, it is often used to add a distinctive percussive sound to a song, and may be played by a band member or a session musician.

5. Why is the Triangle Instrument often overlooked or underrated?

Despite its importance in many different musical genres, the Triangle Instrument is often overlooked or underrated compared to other instruments. This may be due in part to its simple appearance and limited range of sounds, which can make it seem less impressive or versatile than other instruments. However, skilled players can produce a surprising range of sounds and effects with the instrument, and it remains an important part of many different musical traditions around the world.

6. How can I learn to play the Triangle Instrument?

If you are interested in learning to play the Triangle Instrument, there are a variety of resources available to help you get started. You may be able to find instructional videos or tutorials online, or you can seek out a private teacher or music school in your area. It is important to start with the basics and practice regularly in order to develop the necessary skills and technique to play the instrument well.

7. What are some famous songs that feature the Triangle Instrument?

There are many famous songs that feature the Triangle Instrument, often in a subtle or understated way. Some examples include “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel, “The Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. In more modern music, the Triangle Instrument can be heard in songs by bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, and Arcade Fire.

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