The woodblock is a simple idiophone percussion instrument made from a single piece of wood. It has a slit in the middle that allows the player to create various sounds when struck with a beater or brushes. It has its origins in Asia but has become a popular background musical instrument in hundreds of popular music recordings.
History of the Woodblock
The woodblock has its historical origins in China as it is thought to be a relative of instruments like the pang-tzu, but may also have an African background with relations like the log drum. The ancient Chinese temple block may also be a close relation. The woodblock is a type of slit drum and though its exact adoption into Western music is uncertain, the first jazz pioneers used it to create new rhythms and sounds during the early 20th century. The musicians of this time also dubbed the instrument with new names like clog box. Nowadays, the woodblock is one of the most commonly found percussion instruments used to create texture in thousands of popular music recordings, classical music performances and film scores.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£10 - £30

Hear the Woodblock

Audio of the Woodblock is Coming Soon

How to Play

A percussion instrument that is played by striking a wooden block with a stick. It produces a sharp, percussive sound.

In Popular Music

Recording studios always have a woodblock lying around which is why it can be heard on hundreds of recordings uncredited. Some famous examples of the woodblock in popular music are songs like 'Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac and 'Billie Jean' by Michael Jackson.

Famous Players

Steve Reich, John Cage

Close Relations

Temple Blocks, Slit Drum
Video Credit: Schlagwerk
Understanding the Woodblock










Instruments of Music

Copyright © 2023 Instruments of Music. All Rights Reserved.