What Is a Non-Pitched Instrument?

A non-pitched instrument is one through which no discernible pitch can be heard. All non-pitched instruments are part of the percussion family. Non-pitched instruments can be categorized as indefinite pitch instruments, unpitched instruments or untuned instruments.

Orchestras classify non-pitched instruments as auxiliary percussion. Examples of instruments that are non-pitched are snare drums, crash cymbals, whistles, maracas, cowbells, triangles and air raid sirens. Non-pitched percussion instruments are typically used to maintain a rhythm or provide accents. The sounds created by non-pitched instruments are usually unrelated to the melody or harmony of the music. However, it is important to note that many non-pitched percussion instruments can produce a sound with a recognizable fundamental frequency, and therefore some can also be used as pitched percussion instruments.