Choosing Sides When Playing Triangle
Each part of the triangle offers unique timbres and effects based on how and where you strike the instrument.
Meet Your Instructor
Dr. Andrea Venet is a Black Swamp Percussion Artist, soloist, educator, and composer specializing in contemporary and classical genres. She is currently Assistant Professor of Percussion and head of the department at the University of North Florida, where she directs the UNF percussion ensemble, teaches applied lessons, pedagogy, methods and percussion literature. Her creative activity includes performance, composition, and commissioning new works. Andrea is also the co-founder of the percussion duo, Escape Ten. The duo also features BSP Educator, Dr. Annie Stevens.
Grab your triangle, beater, and clip! While Black Swamp triangles are always recommended, they are not necessary to create a great sound on your instrument.
Here is the gear used in this video:
"The teardrop shaped beater is really versatile because it's essentially a two-in-one beater. You have a thin tapered tip of the beater for softer more delicate passages and then the wider part of the bronze allows you to have a little bit more weight for louder passages. So I highly recommend it." - Andrea Venet
Which Side Are You On?
"I think that the triangle is one of the most misunderstood percussion instruments, even though it's one of the most common things that you're going to find in standard percussion parts." - Andrea Venet
Understanding the different types of sounds that you can achieve by playing the triangle will help you figure out the right sound for your ensemble. Finding which sound is appropriate for the piece can sometimes be as simple as choosing the appropriate side of the triangle. Yes, all three sides of the triangle have the ability to produce different timbres. However, that is just one of several calculates necessary to produce the desired sound from the instrument. The triangle clip, beater material, beater angle, and posture will all have an impact on the sound you are able to create with your instrument.
Below are demonstrations of 3 different stroke options you can try at home on the triangle:
The first is played on the side of the triangle opposite of the opening. This stroke produces the clearest most discernible pitch from the triangle. While this is a useful expression of the triangle, it may not be the best use case for most repertoire. In a previous lesson with Andrea, she discusses the utility of the triangle as a metallic, non-pitched instrument. As such, the triangle should not interfere with instruments within the higher register of the ensemble and create conflicting pitches. Instead, the triangle can blend best with the ensemble when as many overtones are present as possible with each stroke. That way, the triangle embellishes the ensemble and doesn't compete with anyone else in the music.
The second can be played on the bottom bar of the triangle. The sound produced on the bottom bar of the triangle also has a lot of pitch, but the note itself will resonate slightly lower than the side of the triangle.
The third will again be played on the bottom bar of the triangle but the angle of the beater will be adjusted to be 45 degrees from your strike zone. This simple adjustment will bring out a wide array of complex overtones from the instrument even though we are still striking in the same area as our second stroke.
JB, demonstrates an articulate note produced on the side of the triangle verses a stroke toward the top bend of the instrument which produces significantly more overtones.
Campbell, address the importance of beater angles in this quick lesson. He also gives several examples of when it is important to get a more focused pitch from your triangle as opposed to an overtone rich sound.
This goes to show that exploring and experimenting with your triangle will go a long way when making interpretive choices about how and where you strike the triangle.