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Alan Abel
Alan Abel performing in 2015
Alan Abel performing in 2015
Born 1928 (age 93–94)
Hobart, Indiana
Occupation percussionist
Years active 1951-present

Alan Abel (born 1928) is an American percussionist, music teacher and inventor of musical instruments. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, he performed with various orchestras, most notably for 38 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1959 to 1997.

In addition to his musical career, Abel is also since 1972 a teacher of music at Temple University. Abel is also credited with inventing the "Alan Abel Triangle" and the "suspended" bass drum stand, a drum stand that allows the bass drum to be suspended and swiveled, both of which have since been in use by many professional classical musicians and most American symphonic orchestras.


Abel was born in Hobart, Indiana, in 1928.[1][2] At the age of seven, he started percussion lessons. He studied with Clarence Carlson at the Roy Knapp School and then with Haskell Harr and William Street at the Eastman School of Music from 1947 to 1951, where he earned a performance degree and played part-time with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.[3]

After enlisting and playing in the United States Air Force Band from 1951 to 1953,[1][3] he performed with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic from 1953 to 1959.[1][2] In 1959 he became a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra with which he performed until the end of his career in 1997.[2] He was named Associate Principal Percussionist of that orchestra in 1972.[2]

In 1998 he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.[2][3] In 2012, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the New England Conservatory of Music.[4]

Abel has also been a teacher at Rutgers University,[5] Rowan University,[5] and Temple University, at the latter since 1972.[2][6]

Musical instruments

Abel's predecessor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jim Valerio, had a custom-made triangle which was coveted by his peers.[2] After lending it to Abel for the first two years, Abel devised a way to recreate the sound and created the "Alan Abel Triangle", which uses a piece of chromed brass.[7] Used because of its overtone-rich sound,[8] the Triangle has been manufactured since 1963.[5][9]

Abel also invented the "suspended" bass drum stand in the early 1960s, which he manufactured himself until 2013, when he handed manufacturing to Andy Reamer, who had previously supplied the drums.[8] The stand allows the bass drum to be suspended on a ring that swivels.[2] The suspended bass drum stand is used by most American symphonic orchestras and the concept has been copied and imitated by multiple drum hardware manufacturers worldwide.[2][9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Huffman, Larry. "Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians List". The Stokowski Legacy. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 O'Mahoney, Terry. "PAS Hall of Fame: Alan Abel". Percussive Arts Society. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Barnhart, Stephen L. (2000) (in en). Percussionists: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press. p. 5. ISBN 9780313296277. 
  4. "Honorary Doctor of Music". 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Colaneri, Chris (2015) (in en). Modern Etudes and Studies for the Total Percussionist. Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780199389148. 
  6. Lewis, Susan (17 June 2014). "A Master Percussionist Nurturing the Next Generation" (in en). WRTI. 
  7. Facchin, Guido (2000) (in it). Le percussioni. EDT srl. p. 133. ISBN 9788870632514. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Kanny, Mark. "Percussion trifecta: PSO's Reamer plays, teaches, makes drums" (in en-US). 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lewis, Susan (4 February 2013). "Where Music Lives: At Percussionist Alan Abel's House" (in en). WRTI. 

External links

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