A phenomenological cluster excitation model is proposed to describe the cumulative particle emission in nuclear reactions initiated by energetic projectiles. Clusters consisting of few nucleons are assumed to act as subunits of the nucleus in quasi-free inelastic collisions with the projectile. They absorb considerable energy and momentum in this process and decay statistically into the kinematically allowed exit channels. The dynamical properties of nuclear clusters are assumed to be the same for all target nuclei investigated. Good agreement of model calculations with experimental data is reached for a wide region of the target mass number and for incidence energies from 0.6 GeV to 400 GeV.