A jingle bell or sleigh bell is a type of bell which produces a distinctive 'jingle' sound, especially in large numbers. They find use in many areas as a percussion instrument, including the classic sleigh bell sound and morris dancing. They are typically used as a cheaper alternative to small 'classic' bells.
The simplest jingle bells are produced from a single piece of sheet metal bent into a roughly spherical shape to contain a small ball bearing or short piece of metal rod. This method of production results in the classic two- or four-leaved shape. Two halves may also be crimped together, resulting in a ridge around the middle. A glass marble may also be used as the ringer on larger bells.
Jingle bells are commonly used on Christmas decorations or as Christmas ornaments of themselves, or hung around the neck like a necklace. They can also be strung onto a heavy wire and bent into a wreath shape, usually with a metal bow. Rather than the cross-shaped opening in the bottom, other designs may by cut into the bell, such as a snowflake. Small designs like stars may also be cut into the upper part of the bell. "Jingle Bells" is possibly the best-known Christmas song.
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles), or struck, scraped or rubbed by hand, or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.
The percussion section of an orchestra, however, traditionally contains in addition many instruments that are not, strictly speaking, percussion, such as whistles and sirens. On the other hand, keyboard instruments such as the celesta are not normally part of the percussion section, but keyboard percussion instruments (which do not have keyboards) are included.
Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two classes: Pitched percussion instruments, which produce notes with an identifiable pitch, and unpitched percussion instruments, which produce notes without an identifiable pitch.