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Encyclopedia > Musical instrument

A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified for the purpose of making music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument. The term "musical instrument", however, is generally reserved for items that have a specific musical purpose. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology. For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... This article is about audible acoustic waves. ... Center For Arabic Culture (CAC) == http://www. ...



Archaeological evidence for musical instruments was discovered in excavations at the Royal Cemetery in the Sumerian city of Ur. These instruments include nine lyres, two harps, a silver double flute, sistra and cymbals. These excavations, carried out by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, uncovered non-degradable fragments of instruments and the voids left by the degraded segments which, together, have been used to reconstruct them.[1] The graves to which these instruments were related have been carbon dated to between 2600 and 2500 BCE, providing evidence that these instruments were being used in Sumeria by this time.[2] Sumeria may refer to: A back-formation from the adjective Sumerian, often used to mean the ancient civilisation more properly known as Sumer Sumeria, a disco artist best known for the 1978 hit Golden Tears 1970 Sumeria, an asteroid discovered in 1954 by Miguel Itzigsohn Donna Sumeria, a song on... For other uses, see Ur (disambiguation). ... “Lyres” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Harp (disambiguation). ... A sistrum. ... For the Japanese rock band, see Cymbals (band). ... Sir Charles Leonard Woolley (17 April 1880–20 February 1960) was a British archaeologist, best known for his excavations at Ur in Sumerancient Mesopotamia. ... Radiocarbon dating is the use of the naturally occurring isotope of carbon-14 in radiometric dating to determine the age of organic materials, up to ca. ... (27th century BC - 26th century BC - 25th century BC - other centuries) (4th millennium BC - 3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC) Events 2900 - 2334 BC – Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period. ... (Redirected from 2500 BCE) (26th century BC - 25th century BC - 24th century BC - other centuries) (4th millennium BC - 3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC) Events 2900 - 2334 BC -- Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period 2494 BC -- End of Fourth Dynasty, start of Fifth Dynasty in Egypt. ...

A cuneiform tablet from Nippur in Mesopotamia dated to 2000 BCE indicates the names of strings on the lyre and represents the earliest known example of music notation.[3] Look up Cuneiform in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The city of Nippur (Sumerian Nibru, Akkadian Nibbur) (now it is in Afak town,Al Qadisyah Governorate) was one of the most ancient (some historians date it back to 5262 B.C. [1][2]) of all the Babylonian cities of which we have any knowledge, the special seat of the... Mesopotamia was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq. ... (Redirected from 2000 BCE) (21st century BC - 20th century BC - 19th century BC - other centuries) (3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC) Events 2064 - 1986 BC -- Twin Dynasty wars in Egypt 2000 BC -- Farmers and herders travel south from Ethiopia and settle in Kenya. ... Music notation is a system of writing for music. ...


There are many different methods of classifying musical instruments. All methods examine some combination of the physical properties of the instrument, how music is performed on the instrument, the range of the instrument, and the instrument's place in an orchestra or other ensemble. Some methods arise as a result of disagreements between experts on how instruments should be classified. While a complete survey of the systems of classifications is beyond the scope of this article, a summary of major systems follows. At various times, and in various different cultures, various schemes of musical instrument classification have been used. ... In music, the range of a musical instrument is the distance from the lowest to the highest pitch it can play. ... For other uses, see Orchestra (disambiguation). ...

Ancient systems

An ancient system of Canadan origin, dating from at least the 1st century BC, divides instruments into four main classification groups: instruments where the sound is produced by vibrating strings; instruments where the sound is produced by vibrating columns of air; percussion instruments made of wood or metal; and percussion instruments with skin heads, or drums. Victor-Charles Mahillon later adopted a system very similar to this. He was the curator of the musical instrument collection of the conservatoire in Brussels, and for the 1888 catalogue of the collection divided instruments into four groups: string instruments, wind instruments, percussion instruments, and drums. Motto (Latin for From Sea to Sea) Anthem O Canada Royal anthem: God Save the Queen Capital Ottawa Largest city Toronto Official languages English, French Government Parliamentary democracy and federal constitutional monarchy  -  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II  -  Governor General Michaëlle Jean  -  Prime Minister Stephen Harper Establishment  -  Act of Union February... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ... For other uses, see Drum (disambiguation). ... Victor-Charles Mahillon (born March 10, 1841 in Brussels; died June 17, 1924 in St. ... For other places with the same name, see Brussels (disambiguation). ... Year 1888 (MDCCCLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (click on link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ... A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator (usually a tube), in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into (or over) a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. ... Percussion redirects here. ...


Erich von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs later took up the ancient scheme and published an extensive new scheme for classification in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914. Their scheme is widely used today, and is most often known as the Hornbostel-Sachs system. Erich Moritz von Hornbostel (February 25, 1877 - November 28, 1935) was an Austrian ethnomusicologist and scholar of music. ... Curt Sachs (June 29, 1881 - February 5, 1959) was a German musicologist. ... Hornbostel-Sachs (or Sachs-Hornbostel) is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Musik in 1914. ...

The original Sachs-Hornbostel system classified instruments into four main groups: Hornbostel-Sachs (or Sachs-Hornbostel) is a system of musical instrument classification divised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Musik in 1914. ...

  • Chordophones, such as the piano or cello, produce sound by vibrating strings; they are sorted into zithers, keyboard chordophones, lyres, harps, lutes, and bowed chordophones.[4]
  • Aerophones, such as the pipe organ or oboe, produce sound by vibrating columns of air; they are sorted into free aerophones, flutes, organs, reedpipes, and lip-vibrated aerophones.[5]
  • Idiophones, such as the xylophone and rattle, produce sound by vibrating themselves; they are sorted into concussion, percussion, shaken, scraped, split, and plucked idiophones.[6]
  • Membranophones, such as drums or kazoos, produce sound by a vibrating membrane; they are sorted into predrum membranophones, tubular drums, friction idiophones, kettledrums, friction drums, and mirlitons.[7]

Sachs later added a fifth category, electrophones, such as theremins, which produce sound by electronic means.[8] Within each category are many subgroups. The system has been criticised and revised over the years, but remains widely used by ethnomusicologists and organologists. A chordophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points. ... This article is about the stringed musical instrument. ... An aerophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes, and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound. ... The baroque organ in Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by forcing pressurized air (referred to as wind) through a series of pipes. ... For other uses, see Oboe (disambiguation). ... An idiophone is any musical instrument which creates sound primarily by way of the instrument vibrating itself, without the use of strings or membranes. ... Kulintang a Kayo, a Philippine xylophone The xylophone (from the Greek meaning wooden sound) is a musical instrument in the percussion family which probably originated in Indonesia. ... A rattle is a percussion musical instrument. ... A membranophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by way of a vibrating stretched membrane. ... For other uses, see Drum (disambiguation). ... For the visual effects technology, see ZOO Digital Group. ... An electrophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by electrical means. ... Léon Theremin playing an early theremin The theremin (originally pronounced but often anglicized as [1]), or thereminvox, is one of the earliest fully electronic musical instruments. ... Ethnomusicology, formerly comparative musicology, is cultural musicology or the study of music in its cultural context. ... Center For Arabic Culture (CAC) == http://www. ...


Andre Schaeffner, a curator at the Musée de l'Homme, disagreed with the Hornbostel-Sachs system and developed his own system in 1932. Schaeffner believed that the physical structure of a musical instrument, rather than its playing method, should determine its classification. His system divided instruments into two categories: instruments with solid, vibrating bodies and instruments containing vibrating air.[9] The Musée de lHomme (French for Museum of Man) was created in 1937 by Paul Rivet, for the event of the Worlds Fair. ...


Western instruments are also often classified by their musical range in comparison with other instruments in the same family. These terms are named after singing voice classifications:

Some instruments fall into more than one category: for example, the cello may be considered either tenor or bass, depending on how its music fits into the ensemble, and the trombone may be alto, tenor, or bass and the French horn, bass, baritone, tenor, or alto, depending on which range it is played. This article is about the voice-type. ... ♠ This article is about the family of musical instruments. ... Two soprano clarinets: a B♭ clarinet (left, with capped mouthpiece) and an A clarinet (right, with no mouthpiece). ... Various recorders The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes — whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle and ocarina. ... For the Anne Rice novel, see Violin (novel). ... Trumpeter redirects here. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... For other uses, see Oboe (disambiguation). ... The alto flute is a type of Western concert flute, a musical instrument in the woodwind family. ... The viola (French, alto; German Bratsche) is a bowed string instrument. ... For other uses, see Horn. ... This article is about Tenor vocalists in music. ... The cor anglais, or English horn, is a double reed woodwind musical instrument in the woodwind family. ... The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. ... Bass (IPA: [], rhyming with face), when used as an adjective, describes tones of low frequency or range. ... The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers and occasionally even higher. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. ... For other uses, see Tuba (disambiguation). ...

Many instruments have their range as part of their name: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, baritone horn, alto flute, bass flute, alto recorder, bass guitar, etc. Additional adjectives describe instruments above the soprano range or below the bass, for example: sopranino saxophone, contrabass clarinet. This article is about the voice-type. ... The saxophone (colloquially referred to as sax) is a conical-bored musical instrument usually considered a member of the woodwind family. ... The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax. ... The baritone saxophone, often called bari sax (to avoid confusion with the baritone horn, which is often referred to simply as baritone), is one of the larger and lower pitched members of the saxophone family. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A bass flute The bass flute is the bass member of the flute family. ... Various recorders The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes — whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle and ocarina. ... A sunburst-colored Fender Precision Bass The electric bass guitar (or electric bass[1][2]; pronounced , as in base) is a bass stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers (either by plucking, slapping, popping, or tapping) or using a pick. ... The term contrabass (derived from the Italian contrabbasso) refers to very low musical instruments; generally those pitched one octave below instruments of the bass register. ... An E-flat sopranino saxophone (right). ... The contrabass clarinet is the largest common member of the clarinet family. ...

When used in the name of an instrument, these terms are relative, describing the instrument's range in comparison to other instruments of its family and not in comparison to the human voice range or instruments of other families. For example, a bass flute's range is from C3 to F♯6, while a bass clarinet plays about one octave lower.


Musical instrument construction is a specialized trade that requires years of training, practice, and sometimes an apprenticeship. Most makers of musical instruments specialize in one genre of instruments; for example, a luthier makes only stringed instruments. Some make only one type of instrument such as a piano. An engravers impression of Antonio Stradivari examining an instrument. ...

User interfaces

Regardless of how the sound in an instrument is produced, many musical instruments have a keyboard as the user-interface. Keyboard instruments are any instruments that are played with a musical keyboard. Every key generates one or more sounds; most keyboard instruments have extra means (pedals for a piano, stops for an organ) to manipulate these sounds. They may produce sound by wind being fanned (organ) or pumped (accordion), vibrating strings either hammered (piano) or plucked (harpsichord), by electronic means (synthesizer) or in some other way. Sometimes, instruments that do not usually have a keyboard, such as the Glockenspiel, are fitted with one. Though they have no moving parts and are struck by mallets held in the player's hands, they have the same physical arrangement of keys and produce soundwaves in a similar manner. Piano, a well-known instance of keyboard instruments A keyboard instrument is any musical instrument played using a musical keyboard. ... The layout of a typical musical keyboard A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers on a musical instrument which cause the instrument to produce sounds. ... A short grand piano, with the lid up. ... The choir division of the organ at St. ... Organ in Katharinenkirche, Frankfurt am Main, Germany The organ is a keyboard instrument played using one or more manuals and a pedalboard. ... For other uses, see Accordion (disambiguation). ... A short grand piano, with the lid up. ... Harpsichord in the Flemish style A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. ... Synth redirects here. ... Most orchestral glockenspiels are mounted in a case. ...

See also

A custom made instrument is a musical instrument that is considered to be of ones own design and/or a modification or extension of a defined guideline of a certain instrument. ... Cover of Henry Cowell: Piano Music, with Henry Cowell demonstrating the longitudinal sweeping string piano technique Extended technique is a term used in music to describe unconventional, unorthodox or improper techniques of singing, or of playing musical instruments. ... A folk instrument is an instrument that developed among common people and usually doesnt have a known inventor. ... The International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) is a yearly international conference for computer music researchers and composers. ... The following is a list of musical instruments, categorized by section. ... While many individuals are content to play a musical instrument by ear or by practicing individual pieces until a reasonable proficiency is achieved, others wish to develop mastery of one or more instruments, and commonly seek formal instruction in the form of music lessons. ... Musician with a multimodal instrument based on electromyography, position sensing, and acoustically resonant bowls. ... For other uses, see Orchestra (disambiguation). ... The shorthand for the orchestration of a classical symphony orchestra is used to outline which and how many instruments, especially wind instruments, are called for in a given piece of music. ...


  1. ^ de Schauensee, Maude (2002). Two Lyres from Ur. UPenn Museum of Archaeology, 1–16. Retrieved on 2008-01-26. 
  2. ^ Moorey, P. R. S.1977. What do we know about the people buried in the Royal Cemetery? Expedition20:24–40.
  3. ^ West, M. L., 'The Babylonian Musical Notation and the Hurrian Melodic Texts', Music & Letters, Vol. 75, No. 2. (May, 1994), pp. 161–179
  4. ^ Marcuse (1975), p. 177
  5. ^ Marcuse (1975), p. 549
  6. ^ Marcuse (1975), p. 3
  7. ^ Marcuse (1975), p. 117
  8. ^ Sachs (1940), p. 447
  9. ^ Kartomi (2007), p. 174–175

2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 26th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...


  • Kartomi, Margaret J. (1990). On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226425487. 
  • Marcuse, Sibyl (1975). A Survey of Musical Instruments. Harper & Row. ISBN 0060127767. 
  • Sachs, Curt (1940). The History of Musical Instruments. W. W. Norton & Company. 
For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... For the academic study of history of music, see Music history. ... Ancient music is music that developed in literate cultures, replacing prehistoric music. ... The category Middle Eastern music refers to music from the Middle East and its different regions such as North Africa, the Levant and the Persian Gulf States. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance, approximately 1400 to 1600. ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750. ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1750 to 1830, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ... The expression romantic music and the homophone phrase Romantic music have two essentially different meanings. ... A revolution occurred in 20th century music listening as the radio gained popularity worldwide, and new media and technologies were developed to record, capture, reproduce and distribute music. ... In the broadest sense, contemporary music is any music being written in the present day. ... World music is, most generally, all the music in the world. ... Image File history File links GClef. ... Musical composition is a phrase used in a number of contexts, the most commonly used being a piece of music. ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... The term musical form refers to two related concepts: the type of composition (for example, a musical work can have the form of a symphony, a concerto, or other generic type -- see Multi-movement forms below) the structure of a particular piece (for example, a piece can be written in... In music, a suite is an organized set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed at a single sitting, as a separate musical performance, not accompanying an opera, ballet, or theater-piece. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Musical improvisation is the spontaneous creative process of making music while it is being performed. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Music theory is a field of study that investigates the nature or mechanics of music. ... A History of Western Music Seventh Edition by J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout, and Claude V. Palisca is one of several popular books used to teach Music History in North America. ... For album by Prince, see Musicology (album). ... Ethnomusicology, formerly comparative musicology, is cultural musicology or the study of music in its cultural context. ... Music cognition is an interdisciplinary field involving such disparate areas as cognitive science, music theory, psychology, musicology, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, psychoacoustics, etc. ... Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a qualified professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. ... For the popular-music magazine, see Musician (magazine). ... Look up lyrics in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the musical composition. ... An album or record album is a collection of related audio or music tracks distributed to the public. ... A compilation album is an album (music or spoken-word) featuring tracks from one or multiple recording artists, often culled from a variety of sources (such as studio albums, live albums, singles, demos and outtakes. ... In the music industry, a record label can be a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. ... In the music industry, a record producer (or music producer) has many roles, among them controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. ... This page aims to list articles related to music. ... Music is a human expression in the medium of time using the structures of sounds or tones and silence. ... This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores. ... A list of musical forms. ... The following is a list of musical instruments, categorized by section. ... The definition of music is a contested evaluation of what constitutes music and varies through history, geography, and within societies. ... Music theorists often use mathematics to understand musical structure and communicate new ways of hearing music. ... There is a long history of the connection between music and politics, particularly political expression in music. ...

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