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Whip (instrument): Wikis


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In music, a whip or slapstick is a percussion instrument consisting of two wooden boards joined by a hinge at one end. When the boards are brought together rapidly, the sound is reminiscent of the crack of a whip. It is often used in modern orchestras, bands, and percussion ensembles.

There are two types of whips. The first has two planks of wood connected together by a hinge, with a handle on each. The percussionist holds the instrument by the handles and hits the two pieces of wood together, creating a loud whip noise. The other type also has two planks of wood, one longer than the other, with one handle, connected with a spring hinge so it can be played with just one hand, though it cannot produce sounds as loud as a whip requiring both hands. This second type of whip is technically a separate instrument called a slapstick.

A whip being used in a marching band pit ensemble
A slap stick made by Ludwig

Usage in classical music

See also

Simple English

In music, a whip or slapstick is a percussion instrument. It consists of two pieces of wood joined by a hinge. The pieces of wood are slapped together. This makes a noise like a whip. There is a handle on each of the pieces of wood so that the player can hold it and slap them together without trapping his fingers.

The whip is often heard in modern orchestras, bands and percussion groups. Examples of a whip in classical music can be heard near the beginning of Ravel's Piano Concerto (3rd movement), and in Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

There is another type of whip, in which one plank is longer than the other. It can be played with one hand. The player shakes the instrument quickly and the small plank moves away from the large one, then slaps back onto it. It makes a different kind of sound from the whip, and is properly called a slapstick. It has been used by several composers including Mahler, Richard Strauss, Ravel, Mussorgsky and Hindemith.


  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments published by Konemann, ISBN 10: 3-8331-2195-5

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