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A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. A person who plays a musical instrument is known as an instrumentalist. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for rituals, such as a horn to signal success on the hunt, or a
drum The drum is a member of the percussion instrument, percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophones, membranophone. Drums consist of at least one Acoustic membrane, membrane, cal ...
in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of
melodies A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most liter ...
for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications and technologies. The date and origin of the first device considered a musical instrument is disputed. The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 50,000 - 60,000 years. Some consensus dates early flutes to about 40,000 years ago. However, most historians believe that determining a specific time of musical instrument invention is impossible, as many early musical instruments were made from animal skins, bone, wood, and other non-durable materials. Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations caused rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the post-classical era, instruments from
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
were in
maritime Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei Brunei ( , ), formally Brunei Darussalam ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: , ), is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast ...
, and Europeans played instruments originating from
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of
North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating Direction (geometry), direction or geography. Etymology T ...
, Central, and
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
shared musical instruments. By 1400, musical instrument development slowed in many areas and was dominated by the Occident. During the Classical and Romantic periods of music, lasting from roughly 1750 to 1900, many new musical instruments were developed. While the evolution of traditional musical instruments slowed beginning in the 20th century, the proliferation of
electricity Electricity is the set of physics, physical Phenomenon, phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism, both being part of the phenomenon of electromagne ...
led to the invention of new electric instruments, such as
electric guitar An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external Guitar amplifier, amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar (however combinations of the two - a Semi-acoustic guitar, semi-acous ...
s,
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating Waveform, waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synth ...
s and the theremin. Musical instrument classification is a discipline in its own right, and many systems of classification have been used over the years. Instruments can be classified by their effective range, material composition, size, role, etc. However, the most common academic method,
Hornbostel–Sachs 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 in 1914. An English translation was published in the ''Galpin Society, Gal ...
, uses the means by which they produce sound. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology.


Definition and basic operation

A musical instrument is used to make musical sounds. Once humans moved from making sounds with their bodies — for example, by clapping—to using objects to create music from sounds, musical instruments were born. Primitive instruments were probably designed to emulate natural sounds, and their purpose was ritual rather than entertainment. The concept of melody and the artistic pursuit of musical composition were probably unknown to early players of musical instruments. A person sounding a bone flute to signal the start of a hunt does so without thought of the modern notion of "making music". Musical instruments are constructed in a broad array of styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from "found objects" such as shells and plant parts. As instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of materials. Virtually every material in nature has been used by at least one culture to make musical instruments. One plays a musical instrument by interacting with it in some way — for example, by plucking the strings on a
string instrument String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner. Musicians play some string instruments by plucking the ...
, striking the surface of a drum, or blowing into an animal horn.


Archaeology

Researchers have discovered archaeological evidence of musical instruments in many parts of the world. Some artifacts have been dated to 67,000 years old, while critics often dispute the findings. Consensus solidifying about artifacts dated back to around 37,000 years old and later. Artifacts made from durable materials, or constructed using durable methods, have been found to survive. As such, the specimens found cannot be irrefutably placed as the earliest musical instruments. In July 1995, Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Turk discovered a bone carving in the northwest region of
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , Abbreviation, abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the s ...
. The carving, named the Divje Babe Flute, features four holes that Canadian musicologist Bob Fink determined could have been used to play four notes of a diatonic scale. Researchers estimate the flute's age at between 43,400 and 67,000 years old, making it the oldest known musical instrument and the only musical instrument associated with
Neanderthal Neanderthals (, also ''Homo neanderthalensis'' and erroneously ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis''), also written as Neandertals, are an Extinction, extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ag ...
culture. However, some archaeologists and ethnomusicologists dispute the flute's status as a musical instrument. German archaeologists have found
mammoth A mammoth is any species of the extinct elephantidae, elephantid genus ''Mammuthus'', one of the many genera that make up the Order (biology), order of trunked mammals called proboscideans. The various species of mammoth were commonly equipped ...
bone and
swan Swans are birds of the family (biology), family Anatidae within the genus ''Cygnus''. The swans' closest relatives include the goose, geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form t ...
bone flutes dating back to 30,000 to 37,000 years old in the Swabian Alps. The flutes were made in the
Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek: παλαιός ''wikt:παλαιός, palaios'', "old" and λ ...
age, and are more commonly accepted as being the oldest known musical instruments. Archaeological evidence of musical instruments was discovered in excavations at the Royal Cemetery in the
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
ian city of Ur. These instruments, one of the first ensembles of instruments yet discovered, include nine lyres ( the Lyres of Ur), two harps, a silver double
flute The flute is a family of classical music instrument in the woodwind group. Like all woodwinds, flutes are aerophones, meaning they make sound by vibrating a column of air. However, unlike woodwind instruments with Reed (instrument), reeds, a fl ...
, a sistrum and cymbals. A set of reed-sounded silver pipes discovered in Ur was the likely predecessor of modern
bagpipes Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reed (music), reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Great Highland bagpipes are well known, but people have played bagpipes for centuries throughout large parts o ...
. The cylindrical pipes feature three side-holes that allowed players to produce a whole-tone scale. These excavations, carried out by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, uncovered non-degradable fragments of instruments and the voids left by the degraded segments that, together, have been used to reconstruct them. The graves these instruments were buried in have been carbon dated to between 2600 and 2500 BC, providing evidence that these instruments were used in Sumeria by this time. Archaeologists in the Jiahu site of central Henan province of China have found flutes made of bones that date back 7,000 to 9,000 years, representing some of the "earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments" ever found.


History

Scholars agree that there are no completely reliable methods of determining the exact chronology of musical instruments across cultures. Comparing and organizing instruments based on their complexity is misleading, since advancements in musical instruments have sometimes reduced complexity. For example, construction of early slit drums involved felling and hollowing out large trees; later
slit drum A slit drum or slit gong is a hollow percussion instrument. In spite of the name, it is not a true drum but an idiophone, usually carved or constructed from bamboo or wood into a box with one or more slits in the top. Most slit drums have one slit ...
s were made by opening bamboo stalks, a much simpler task. German musicologist Curt Sachs, one of the most prominent musicologists and musical ethnologists in modern times, argues that it is misleading to arrange the development of musical instruments by workmanship, since cultures advance at different rates and have access to different raw materials. For example, contemporary anthropologists comparing musical instruments from two cultures that existed at the same time but differed in organization, culture, and handicraft cannot determine which instruments are more "primitive". Ordering instruments by geography is also not reliable, as it cannot always be determined when and how cultures contacted one another and shared knowledge. Sachs proposed that a geographical chronology until approximately 1400 is preferable, however, due to its limited subjectivity. Beyond 1400, one can follow the overall development of musical instruments over time. The science of marking the order of musical instrument development relies on archaeological artifacts, artistic depictions, and literary references. Since data in one research path can be inconclusive, all three paths provide a better historical picture.


Prehistoric

Until the 19th century AD, European-written music histories began with mythological accounts mingled with scripture of how musical instruments were invented. Such accounts included Jubal, descendant of Cain and "father of all such as handle the harp and the organ" ( Genesis 4:21) Pan, inventor of the pan pipes, and Mercury, who is said to have made a dried tortoise shell into the first lyre. Modern histories have replaced such mythology with anthropological speculation, occasionally informed by archeological evidence. Scholars agree that there was no definitive "invention" of the musical instrument since the term "musical instrument" is subjective and hard to define. Among the first devices external to the human body that are considered instruments are rattles, stampers, and various
drum The drum is a member of the percussion instrument, percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophones, membranophone. Drums consist of at least one Acoustic membrane, membrane, cal ...
s. These instruments evolved due to the human motor impulse to add sound to emotional movements such as dancing. Eventually, some cultures assigned ritual functions to their musical instruments, using them for hunting and various ceremonies. Those cultures developed more complex percussion instruments and other instruments such as ribbon reeds, flutes, and trumpets. Some of these labels carry far different connotations from those used in modern day; early flutes and trumpets are so-labeled for their basic operation and function rather than resemblance to modern instruments. Among early cultures for whom drums developed ritual, even sacred importance are the
Chukchi people The Chukchi, or Chukchee ( ckt, Ԓыгъоравэтԓьэт, О'равэтԓьэт, ''Ḷygʺoravètḷʹèt, O'ravètḷʹèt''), are a Indigenous peoples of Siberia, Siberian indigenous people native to the Chukchi Peninsula, the shores of ...
of the Russian Far East, the indigenous people of
Melanesia Melanesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It extends from Indonesia's Western New Guinea, New Guinea in the west to Fiji in the east, and includes the Arafura Sea. The region includes the four independent cou ...
, and many cultures of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
. In fact, drums were pervasive throughout every African culture. One East African tribe, the Wahinda, believed it was so holy that seeing a drum would be fatal to any person other than the sultan. Humans eventually developed the concept of using musical instruments to produce
melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most liter ...
, which was previously common only in singing. Similar to the process of
reduplication In linguistics, reduplication is a Morphology (linguistics), morphological process in which the Root (linguistics), root or Stem (linguistics), stem of a word (or part of it) or even the whole word is repeated exactly or with a slight change. Th ...
in language, instrument players first developed repetition and then arrangement. An early form of melody was produced by pounding two stamping tubes of slightly different sizes—one tube would produce a "clear" sound and the other would answer with a "darker" sound. Such instrument pairs also included bullroarers, slit drums, shell trumpets, and skin drums. Cultures who used these instrument pairs associated them with gender; the "father" was the bigger or more energetic instrument, while the "mother" was the smaller or duller instrument. Musical instruments existed in this form for thousands of years before patterns of three or more tones would evolve in the form of the earliest
xylophone The xylophone (; ) is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by Percussion mallet, mallets. Like the glockenspiel (which uses metal bars), the xylophone essentially consists of a set of tuned wooden k ...
. Xylophones originated in the mainland and archipelago of
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia, South-eastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, south-eastern region of Asia, consistin ...
, eventually spreading to Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Along with xylophones, which ranged from simple sets of three "leg bars" to carefully tuned sets of parallel bars, various cultures developed instruments such as the ground harp, ground zither, musical bow, and jaw harp. Recent research into usage wear and acoustics of stone artefacts has revealed a possible new class of prehistoric musical instrument, known as lithophones.


Antiquity

Images of musical instruments begin to appear in Mesopotamian artifacts in 2800 BC or earlier. Beginning around 2000 BC,
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
ian and
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
ian cultures began delineating two distinct classes of musical instruments due to division of labor and the evolving class system. Popular instruments, simple and playable by anyone, evolved differently from professional instruments whose development focused on effectiveness and skill. Despite this development, very few musical instruments have been recovered in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
. Scholars must rely on artifacts and
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
texts written in Sumerian or Akkadian to reconstruct the early history of musical instruments in Mesopotamia. Even the process of assigning names to these instruments is challenging since there is no clear distinction among various instruments and the words used to describe them. Although Sumerian and Babylonian artists mainly depicted ceremonial instruments, historians have distinguished six idiophones used in early Mesopotamia: concussion clubs, clappers, sistra, bells, cymbals, and rattles. Sistra are depicted prominently in a great relief of
Amenhotep III Amenhotep III ( egy, jmn-ḥtp(.w), ''Amānəḥūtpū'' , "Amun is Satisfied"; Hellenization, Hellenized as Amenophis III), also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent or Amenhotep the Great, was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, ...
, and are of particular interest because similar designs have been found in far-reaching places such as
Tbilisi Tbilisi ( ; ka, თბილისი ), in some languages still known by its pre-1936 name Tiflis ( ), is the Capital city, capital and the List of cities and towns in Georgia (country), largest city of Georgia (country), Georgia, lying on the ...
, Georgia and among the Native American Yaqui tribe. The people of Mesopotamia preferred stringed instruments, as evidenced by their proliferation in Mesopotamian figurines, plaques, and seals. Innumerable varieties of harps are depicted, as well as lyres and lutes, the forerunner of modern stringed instruments such as the
violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone (string instrument) in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument ( soprano) in the family in regul ...
. Musical instruments used by the Egyptian culture before 2700 BC bore striking similarity to those of Mesopotamia, leading historians to conclude that the civilizations must have been in contact with one another. Sachs notes that Egypt did not possess any instruments that the Sumerian culture did not also possess. However, by 2700 BC the cultural contacts seem to have dissipated; the lyre, a prominent ceremonial instrument in Sumer, did not appear in Egypt for another 800 years. Clappers and concussion sticks appear on Egyptian vases as early as 3000 BC. The civilization also made use of sistra, vertical flutes, double clarinets, arched and angular harps, and various drums. Little history is available in the period between 2700 BC and 1500 BC, as Egypt (and indeed, Babylon) entered a long violent period of war and destruction. This period saw the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
destroy the
Babylonian empire Babylonia (; Akkadian language, Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an Ancient history, ancient Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking state (polity), state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-d ...
in Mesopotamia and the
Hyksos Hyksos (; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''wikt:ḥqꜣ, ḥqꜣ(w)-wikt:ḫꜣst, ḫꜣswt'', Egyptological pronunciation: ''hekau khasut'', "ruler(s) of foreign lands") is a term which, in modern Egyptology, designates the kings of the Fifteenth ...
destroy the
Middle Kingdom of Egypt The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (also known as The Period of Reunification) is the period in the history of ancient Egypt following a period of political division known as the First Intermediate Period of Egypt, First Intermediate Period. The Middl ...
. When the Pharaohs of Egypt conquered Southwest Asia in around 1500 BC, the cultural ties to Mesopotamia were renewed and Egypt's musical instruments also reflected heavy influence from Asiatic cultures. Under their new cultural influences, the people of the
New Kingdom New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Albums and EPs * ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartney, 2013 * ''New'' (EP), by Regurgitator ...
began using
oboe The oboe ( ) is a type of double reed woodwind instrument. Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin, or hybrid composites. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. A ...
s, trumpets, lyres,
lute A lute ( or ) is any plucked string instrument with a neck (music), neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. It may be either fretted or unfretted. More specifically, the term "l ...
s,
castanets Castanets, also known as ''clackers'' or ''palillos'', are a percussion instrument (idiophone), used in Music of Spain, Spanish, Kalo, Moorish, Ottoman music, Ottoman, Music of Italy, Italian, Sephardic, Swiss music, Swiss, and Portuguese mus ...
, and cymbals. Unlike Mesopotamia and Egypt, professional musicians did not exist in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
between 2000 and 1000 BC. While the history of musical instruments in Mesopotamia and Egypt relies on artistic representations, the culture in Israel produced few such representations. Scholars must therefore rely on information gleaned from the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
and the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
. The Hebrew texts mention two prominent instruments associated with Jubal: the ''ugab'' (pipes) and ''
kinnor Kinnor ( he, ''kīnnōr'') is an Israelites, ancient Israelite musical instrument in the yoke lutes family, the first one to be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its exact identification is unclear, but in the modern day it is generally translat ...
'' (lyre). Other instruments of the period included the ''tof'' (
frame drum A frame drum is a drum that has a drumhead width greater than its depth. It is one of the most ancient musical instruments, and perhaps the first drum to be invented. It has a single drumhead that is usually made of rawhide (textile), rawhide, ...
), ''pa'amon'' (small bells or jingles),
shofar A shofar ( ; from he, שׁוֹפָר, ) is an ancient musical Horn (instrument), horn typically made of a Ram (sheep), ram's horn (anatomy), horn, used for Judaism, Jewish religious purposes. Like the modern bugle, the shofar lacks pitch (mus ...
, and the trumpet-like ''hasosra''. The introduction of a monarchy in Israel during the 11th century BC produced the first professional musicians and with them a drastic increase in the number and variety of musical instruments. However, identifying and classifying the instruments remains a challenge due to the lack of artistic interpretations. For example, stringed instruments of uncertain design called nevals and asors existed, but neither archaeology nor etymology can clearly define them. In her book ''A Survey of Musical Instruments'', American musicologist Sibyl Marcuse proposes that the nevel must be similar to vertical harp due to its relation to ''nabla'', the Phoenician term for "harp". In
Greece Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with ...
,
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
, and
Etruria Etruria () was a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now most of Tuscany, northern Lazio, and northern and western Umbria. Etruscan Etruria The ancient people of Etruria are identified as Etruscan civiliza ...
, the use and development of musical instruments stood in stark contrast to those cultures' achievements in architecture and sculpture. The instruments of the time were simple and virtually all of them were imported from other cultures. Lyres were the principal instrument, as musicians used them to honor the gods. Greeks played a variety of
wind instruments 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 or near the end of the resonator. The pitch ...
they classified as ''
aulos An ''aulos'' ( grc, αὐλός, plural , ''auloi'') or ''tibia'' (Latin) was an Music of ancient Greece, ancient Greek wind instrument, depicted often in Ancient Greek art, art and also attested by classical archaeology, archaeology. Though ''a ...
'' (reeds) or ''
syrinx In classical Greek mythology A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, or ...
'' (flutes); Greek writing from that time reflects a serious study of reed production and playing technique. Romans played reed instruments named ''
tibia The tibia (; ), also known as the shinbone or shankbone, is the larger, stronger, and anterior (frontal) of the two Leg bones, bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates (the other being the fibula, behind and to the outside of the tibia); i ...
'', featuring side-holes that could be opened or closed, allowing for greater flexibility in playing modes. Other instruments in common use in the region included vertical harps derived from those of the
Orient The Orient is a term for the East in relation to Europe, traditionally comprising anything belonging to the Eastern world. It is the antonym of ''Occident'', the Western World. In English, it is largely a metonym for, and coterminous with, the c ...
, lutes of Egyptian design, various pipes and organs, and clappers, which were played primarily by women. Evidence of musical instruments in use by early civilizations of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
is almost completely lacking, making it impossible to reliably attribute instruments to the Munda and Dravidian language-speaking cultures that first settled the area. Rather, the history of musical instruments in the area begins with the
Indus Valley civilization The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 Common Era, BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form 2600 B ...
that emerged around 3000 BC. Various rattles and whistles found among excavated artifacts are the only physical evidence of musical instruments. A clay statuette indicates the use of drums, and examination of the
Indus script The Indus script, also known as the Harappan script, is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilisation. Most inscriptions containing these symbols are extremely short, making it difficult to judge whether or not they constituted ...
has also revealed representations of vertical arched harps identical in design to those depicted in Sumerian artifacts. This discovery is among many indications that the Indus Valley and Sumerian cultures maintained cultural contact. Subsequent developments in musical instruments in India occurred with the
Rigveda The ''Rigveda'' or ''Rig Veda'' ( ', from ' "praise" and ' "knowledge") is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns (''sūktas''). It is one of the four sacred canonical Hindu texts ('' śruti'') known as the Vedas F ...
, or hymns. These songs used various drums, shell trumpets, harps, and flutes. Other prominent instruments in use during the early centuries AD were the snake charmer's
double clarinet The term double clarinet refers to any of several woodwind instrument Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the greater category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxopho ...
,
bagpipes Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reed (music), reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Great Highland bagpipes are well known, but people have played bagpipes for centuries throughout large parts o ...
, barrel drums, cross flutes, and short lutes. In all, India had no unique musical instruments until the post-classical era. Musical instruments such as
zither Zithers (; , from the Greek word ''cithara'') are a class of stringed instruments. Historically, the name has been applied to any instrument of the psaltery family, or to an instrument consisting of many string (music), strings stretched across ...
s appeared in Chinese writings around 12th century BC and earlier. Early Chinese philosophers such as
Confucius Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Co ...
(551–479 BC),
Mencius Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucianism, Confucian Chinese philosophy, philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confuc ...
(372–289 BC), and
Laozi Laozi (), also known by #Names, numerous other names, was a Chinese legend, semilegendary ancient China, ancient Chinese Taoism, Taoist Chinese philosophy, philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Ma ...
shaped the development of musical instruments in China, adopting an attitude toward music similar to that of the Greeks. The Chinese believed that music was an essential part of character and community, and developed a unique system of classifying their musical instruments according to their material makeup.
Idiophone An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the vibration of the instrument itself, without the use of air flow (as with aerophones), strings (music), strings (chordophones), acoustic membrane, membranes (membranopho ...
s were extremely important in Chinese music, hence the majority of early instruments were idiophones. Poetry of the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
mentions bells, chimes, drums, and globular flutes carved from bone, the latter of which has been excavated and preserved by archaeologists. The
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was t ...
saw percussion instruments such as clappers, troughs,
wooden fish A wooden fish, also known as a Chinese temple block, wooden bell, or ''muyu'', is a type of Woodblock (instrument), woodblock that originated from East Asia that is used by monks and lay people in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. They are use ...
, and '' '' (wooden tiger). Wind instruments such as flute, pan-pipes, pitch-pipes, and mouth organs also appeared in this time period. The '' xiao'' (an
end-blown flute The end-blown flute (also called an edge-blown flute or rim-blown flute) is a woodwind instrument Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the greater category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, clar ...
) and various other instruments that spread through many cultures, came into use in China during and after the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
. Although civilizations in
Central America Central America ( es, América Central or ) is a subregion of the Americas. Its boundaries are defined as bordering the United States to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Cen ...
attained a relatively high level of sophistication by the eleventh century AD, they lagged behind other civilizations in the development of musical instruments. For example, they had no stringed instruments; all of their instruments were idiophones, drums, and wind instruments such as flutes and trumpets. Of these, only the flute was capable of producing a melody. In contrast,
pre-Columbian In the history of the Americas, the pre-Columbian era spans from the Migration to the New World, original settlement of North and South America in the Upper Paleolithic period through European colonization of the Americas, European colonization, w ...
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
n civilizations in areas such as modern-day
Peru , image_flag = Flag of Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo nacional del Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = Seal (emblem), National seal , national_motto = "Fi ...
,
Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Cari ...
,
Ecuador Ecuador ( ; ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Ikwayur''; Shuar language, Shuar: ''Ecuador'' or ''Ekuatur''), officially the Republic of Ecuador ( es, República del Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator"; Quechuan ...
,
Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...
, and
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...
were less advanced culturally but more advanced musically. South American cultures of the time used pan-pipes as well as varieties of flutes, idiophones, drums, and shell or wood trumpets. An instrument that can be attested to the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age (Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly appl ...
Celts The Celts (, see Names of the Celts#Pronunciation, pronunciation for different usages) or Celtic peoples () are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: Celtic a collection of Indo-Europea ...
is the
carnyx The ancient carnyx was a wind instrument of the Iron Age Celts, used between c. 200 BC and c. AD 200. It was a type of bronze trumpet with an elongated S shape, held so that the long straight central portion was vertical and the short mouthpiec ...
which is dated to ~300 BC, the elongated trumpet-like instrument which had the end of the bell crafted from bronze into the shape of a screaming animal head which was held high above their heads, when blown into, the carnyx would emit a deep, harsh sound, the head also had a tongue which clicked when vibrated, the intention of the instrument was to use it on the battleground to intimidate their opponents.


Post-classical era/Middle Ages

During the period of time loosely referred to as the post-classical era and Europe in particular as the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, China developed a tradition of integrating musical influence from other regions. The first record of this type of influence is in 384 AD, when China established an orchestra in its imperial court after a conquest in
Turkestan Turkestan, also spelled Turkistan ( fa, ترکستان, Torkestân, lit=Land of the Turks), is a historical region in Central Asia corresponding to the regions of Transoxiana and Xinjiang. Overview Known as Turan to the Persians, western Turke ...
. Influences from Middle East, Persia, India, Mongolia, and other countries followed. In fact, Chinese tradition attributes many musical instruments from this period to those regions and countries. Cymbals gained popularity, along with more advanced trumpets, clarinets, pianos, oboes, flutes, drums, and lutes. Some of the first bowed zithers appeared in China in the 9th or 10th century, influenced by Mongolian culture. India experienced similar development to China in the post-classical era; however, stringed instruments developed differently as they accommodated different styles of music. While stringed instruments of China were designed to produce precise tones capable of matching the tones of chimes, stringed instruments of India were considerably more flexible. This flexibility suited the slides and
tremolo In music, ''tremolo'' (), or ''tremolando'' (), is a trembling effect. There are two types of tremolo. The first is a rapid reiteration: * Of a single Musical note, note, particularly used on String instrument#Bowing, bowed string instrument ...
s of Hindu music. Rhythm was of paramount importance in Indian music of the time, as evidenced by the frequent depiction of drums in reliefs dating to the post-classical era. The emphasis on rhythm is an aspect native to Indian music. Historians divide the development of musical instruments in medieval India between pre-Islamic and Islamic periods due to the different influence each period provided. In pre-Islamic times, idiophones such as handbells, cymbals, and peculiar instruments resembling gongs came into wide use in Hindu music. The gong-like instrument was a bronze disk that was struck with a hammer instead of a mallet. Tubular drums, stick zithers (
veena The ''veena'', also spelled ''vina'' ( sa, वीणा IAST: vīṇā), comprises various chordophone instruments from the Indian subcontinent. Ancient musical instruments evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers and arched harps.< ...
), short fiddles, double and triple flutes, coiled trumpets, and curved India horns emerged in this time period. Islamic influences brought new types of drum, perfectly circular or octagonal as opposed to the irregular pre-Islamic drums. Persian influence brought oboes and
sitar The sitar ( or ; ) is a plucked stringed instrument, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used in Hindustani classical music. The instrument was invented in medieval India, flourished in the 18th century, and arrived at its present form in ...
s, although Persian sitars had three strings and Indian version had from four to seven. The Islamic culture also introduced double-
clarinet The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The instrument has a nearly cylindrical bore (wind instruments), bore and a flared bell, and uses a Single-reed instrument, single reed to produce sound. Clarinets comprise a Family ...
instruments as the Alboka (from Arab, al-buq or "horn") nowadays only alive in Basque Country. It must be played using the technique of the circular breathing. Southeast Asian musical innovations include those during a period of Indian influence that ended around 920 AD. Balinese and Javanese music made use of
xylophone The xylophone (; ) is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by Percussion mallet, mallets. Like the glockenspiel (which uses metal bars), the xylophone essentially consists of a set of tuned wooden k ...
s and
metallophone A metallophone is any musical instrument in which the sound-producing body is a piece of metal (other than a metal string), consisting of tuned metal bars, tubes, rods, bowls, or plates. Most frequently the metal body is struck to produce sound, ...
s, bronze versions of the former. The most prominent and important musical instrument of Southeast Asia was the gong. While the gong likely originated in the geographical area between
Tibet Tibet (; ''Böd''; ) is a region in East Asia, covering much of the Tibetan Plateau and spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people. Also resident on the plateau are some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, ...
and
Burma Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John Wells explai ...
, it was part of every category of human activity in
maritime Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei Brunei ( , ), formally Brunei Darussalam ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: , ), is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast ...
including
Java Java (; id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗꦮ; su, ) is one of the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south and the Java Sea to the north. With a population of 151.6 million people, Java is the world's List ...
. The areas of Mesopotamia and the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa Africa is t ...
experiences rapid growth and sharing of musical instruments once they were united by
Islamic culture Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices which are common to historically Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to the early Umayyad period and the early Abbasid period, were predomi ...
in the seventh century. Frame drums and cylindrical drums of various depths were immensely important in all genres of music. Conical oboes were involved in the music that accompanied wedding and circumcision ceremonies. Persian miniatures provide information on the development of kettle drums in Mesopotamia that spread as far as Java. Various lutes, zithers, dulcimers, and harps spread as far as
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
to the south and modern-day
Sulawesi Sulawesi (), also known as Celebes (), is an island in Indonesia. One of the four Greater Sunda Islands, and the List of islands by area, world's eleventh-largest island, it is situated east of Borneo, west of the Maluku Islands, and south of ...
to the east. Despite the influences of Greece and Rome, most musical instruments in Europe during the Middles Ages came from Asia. The lyre is the only musical instrument that may have been invented in Europe until this period. Stringed instruments were prominent in Middle Age Europe. The central and northern regions used mainly lutes, stringed instruments with necks, while the southern region used lyres, which featured a two-armed body and a crossbar. Various harps served Central and Northern Europe as far north as Ireland, where the harp eventually became a national symbol. Lyres propagated through the same areas, as far east as
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...
. European music between 800 and 1100 became more sophisticated, more frequently requiring instruments capable of
polyphony Polyphony ( ) is a type of musical texture (music), texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompan ...
. The 9th-century Persian geographer
Ibn Khordadbeh Abu'l-Qasim Ubaydallah ibn Abdallah ibn Khordadbeh ( ar, ابوالقاسم عبیدالله ابن خرداذبه; 820/825–913), commonly known as Ibn Khordadbeh (also spelled Ibn Khurradadhbih; ), was a high-ranking Persian bureaucrat and ...
mentioned in his lexicographical discussion of music instruments that, in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
, typical instruments included the ''urghun'' (
organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (biology), a part of an organism Musical instruments * Organ (music), a family of keyboard musical instruments characterized by sustained tone ** Electronic organ, an electronic keyboard instrument ** Hammond ...
), ''shilyani'' (probably a type of harp or lyre), ''salandj'' (probably a
bagpipe Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the greater category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone. There are two main types o ...
) and the
lyra Lyra (; Latin for lyre, from Greek language, Greek ''λύρα'') is a small constellation. It is one of the 48 listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and is one of the modern 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical ...
. The Byzantine lyra, a bowed string instrument, is an ancestor of most European bowed instruments, including the
violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone (string instrument) in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument ( soprano) in the family in regul ...
. The
monochord A monochord, also known as sonometer (see #Sonometer, below), is an ancient Musical instrument, musical and scientific laboratory instrument, involving one (:wikt:mono-, mono-) string (:wikt:chord#Etymology, chord). The term ''monochord'' is some ...
served as a precise measure of the notes of a musical scale, allowing more accurate musical arrangements. Mechanical hurdy-gurdies allowed single musicians to play more complicated arrangements than a fiddle would; both were prominent folk instruments in the Middle Ages. Southern Europeans played short and long lutes whose pegs extended to the sides, unlike the rear-facing pegs of Central and Northern European instruments. Idiophones such as bells and clappers served various practical purposes, such as warning of the approach of a
leper Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a Chronic condition, long-term infection by the bacteria ''Mycobacterium leprae'' or ''Mycobacterium lepromatosis''. Infection can lead to damage of the Peripheral nervous system, nerves, respira ...
. The ninth century revealed the first
bagpipes Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reed (music), reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Great Highland bagpipes are well known, but people have played bagpipes for centuries throughout large parts o ...
, which spread throughout Europe and had many uses from folk instruments to military instruments. The construction of pneumatic
organs In biology, an organ is a collection of Tissue (biology), tissues joined in a structural unit to serve a common function. In the biological organization, hierarchy of life, an organ lies between Tissue (biology), tissue and an organ system. Tiss ...
evolved in Europe starting in fifth-century
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
, spreading to
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
in about 700. The resulting instruments varied in size and use from portable organs worn around the neck to large pipe organs. Literary accounts of organs being played in English
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Benedic ...
abbeys toward the end of the tenth century are the first references to organs being connected to churches. Reed players of the Middle Ages were limited to
oboe The oboe ( ) is a type of double reed woodwind instrument. Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin, or hybrid composites. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. A ...
s; no evidence of
clarinet The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The instrument has a nearly cylindrical bore (wind instruments), bore and a flared bell, and uses a Single-reed instrument, single reed to produce sound. Clarinets comprise a Family ...
s exists during this period.


Modern


Western Classical


=Renaissance

= Musical instrument development was dominated by the Occident from 1400 on, indeed, the most profound changes occurred during the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
period. Instruments took on other purposes than accompanying singing or dance, and performers used them as solo instruments. Keyboards and lutes developed as
polyphonic Polyphony ( ) is a type of musical texture (music), texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompan ...
instruments, and composers arranged increasingly complex pieces using more advanced
tablature Tablature (or tabulature, or tab for short) is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches. Tablature is common for fretted stringed instruments such as the guitar, lute or vihuela, as well as many fre ...
. Composers also began designing pieces of music for specific instruments. In the latter half of the sixteenth century,
orchestration Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra (or, more loosely, for any musical ensemble, such as a concert band) or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra. Also called "instrumentation", orch ...
came into common practice as a method of writing music for a variety of instruments. Composers now specified orchestration where individual performers once applied their own discretion. The polyphonic style dominated popular music, and the instrument makers responded accordingly. Beginning in about 1400, the rate of development of musical instruments increased in earnest as compositions demanded more dynamic sounds. People also began writing books about creating, playing, and cataloging musical instruments; the first such book was Sebastian Virdung's 1511 treatise ''Musica getuscht und ausgezogen'' ('Music Germanized and Abstracted'). Virdung's work is noted as being particularly thorough for including descriptions of "irregular" instruments such as hunters' horns and cow bells, though Virdung is critical of the same. Other books followed, including Arnolt Schlick's ''Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten'' ('Mirror of Organ Makers and Organ Players') the following year, a treatise on organ building and organ playing. Of the instructional books and references published in the Renaissance era, one is noted for its detailed description and depiction of all wind and stringed instruments, including their relative sizes. This book, the ''Syntagma musicum'' by
Michael Praetorius Michael Praetorius (probably 28 September 1571 – 15 February 1621) was a German composer, organist, and Music theory, music theorist. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of mu ...
, is now considered an authoritative reference of sixteenth-century musical instruments. In the sixteenth century, musical instrument builders gave most instruments – such as the violin – the "classical shapes" they retain today. An emphasis on aesthetic beauty also developed; listeners were as pleased with the physical appearance of an instrument as they were with its sound. Therefore, builders paid special attention to materials and workmanship, and instruments became collectibles in homes and museums. It was during this period that makers began constructing instruments of the same type in various sizes to meet the demand of ''consorts'', or ensembles playing works written for these groups of instruments. Instrument builders developed other features that endure today. For example, while organs with multiple keyboards and pedals already existed, the first organs with solo stops emerged in the early fifteenth century. These stops were meant to produce a mixture of timbres, a development needed for the complexity of music of the time. Trumpets evolved into their modern form to improve portability, and players used mutes to properly blend into
chamber music Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of Musical instrument, instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a Great chamber, palace chamber or a large room. Most broadly, it includes any art music ...
.


=Baroque

= Beginning in the seventeenth century, composers began writing works to a higher emotional degree. They felt that
polyphony Polyphony ( ) is a type of musical texture (music), texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompan ...
better suited the emotional style they were aiming for and began writing musical parts for instruments that would complement the singing human voice. As a result, many instruments that were incapable of larger ranges and dynamics, and therefore were seen as unemotional, fell out of favor. One such instrument was the shawm. Bowed instruments such as the
violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone (string instrument) in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument ( soprano) in the family in regul ...
,
viola The viola ( , also , ) is a string instrument that is bow (music), bowed, plucked, or played with varying techniques. Slightly larger than a violin, it has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of ...
,
baryton The baryton is a bowed string instrument similar to the viol, but distinguished by an extra set of sympathetic but also pluckable strings. It was in regular use in Europe until the end of the 18th century. Design The baryton can be viewed as a ...
, and various lutes dominated popular music. Beginning in around 1750, however, the lute disappeared from musical compositions in favor of the rising popularity of the
guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is usually held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, w ...
. As the prevalence of
string orchestra A string orchestra is an orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large Musical ensemble, instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families. There are typically four main sections of instruments: * ...
s rose, wind instruments such as the flute, oboe, and bassoon were readmitted to counteract the monotony of hearing only strings. In the mid-seventeenth century, what was known as a hunter's horn underwent a transformation into an "art instrument" consisting of a lengthened tube, a narrower bore, a wider bell, and a much wider range. The details of this transformation are unclear, but the modern horn or, more colloquially, French horn, had emerged by 1725. The slide trumpet appeared, a variation that includes a long-throated mouthpiece that slid in and out, allowing the player infinite adjustments in
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octave ...
. This variation on the trumpet was unpopular due to the difficulty involved in playing it. Organs underwent tonal changes in the Baroque period, as manufacturers such as Abraham Jordan of London made the stops more expressive and added devices such as expressive pedals. Sachs viewed this trend as a "degeneration" of the general organ sound.


=Classical and Romantic

= During the Classical and Romantic periods of music, lasting from roughly 1750 to 1900, many musical instruments capable of producing new timbres and higher volume were developed and introduced into popular music. The design changes that broadened the quality of timbres allowed instruments to produce a wider variety of expression. Large orchestras rose in popularity and, in parallel, the composers determined to produce entire orchestral scores that made use of the expressive abilities of modern instruments. Since instruments were involved in collaborations of a much larger scale, their designs had to evolve to accommodate the demands of the orchestra. Some instruments also had to become louder to fill larger halls and be heard over sizable orchestras. Flutes and bowed instruments underwent many modifications and design changes—most of them unsuccessful—in efforts to increase volume. Other instruments were changed just so they could play their parts in the scores. Trumpets traditionally had a "defective" range—they were incapable of producing certain notes with precision. New instruments such as the
clarinet The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The instrument has a nearly cylindrical bore (wind instruments), bore and a flared bell, and uses a Single-reed instrument, single reed to produce sound. Clarinets comprise a Family ...
,
saxophone The saxophone (often referred to colloquially as the sax) is a type of Single-reed instrument, single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass. As with all single-reed instruments, sound is produced when a reed (mouthpi ...
, and
tuba The tuba (; ) is the lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass instrument, brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by lip vibrationa buzzinto a mouthpiece (brass), mouthpiece. It first appeared in the mid-19th&n ...
became fixtures in orchestras. Instruments such as the clarinet also grew into entire "families" of instruments capable of different ranges: small clarinets, normal clarinets, bass clarinets, and so on. Accompanying the changes to timbre and volume was a shift in the typical pitch used to tune instruments. Instruments meant to play together, as in an orchestra, must be tuned to the same standard lest they produce audibly different sounds while playing the same notes. Beginning in 1762, the average
concert pitch Concert pitch is the pitch (music), pitch reference to which a group of musical instruments are musical tuning, tuned for a performance. Concert pitch may vary from musical ensemble, ensemble to ensemble, and has varied widely over music history. ...
began rising from a low of 377 vibrations to a high of 457 in 1880 Vienna. Different regions, countries, and even instrument manufacturers preferred different standards, making orchestral collaboration a challenge. Despite even the efforts of two organized international summits attended by noted composers like
Hector Berlioz In Greek mythology, Hector (; grc, Ἕκτωρ, Hektōr, label=none, ) is a character in Homer's Iliad. He was a Trojan prince and the greatest warrior for Troy during the Trojan War. Hector led the Trojans and their allies in the defense o ...
, no standard could be agreed upon.


Twentieth century to present

The evolution of traditional musical instruments slowed beginning in the 20th century. Instruments such as the violin, flute, french horn, and harp are largely the same as those manufactured throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Gradual iterations do emerge; for example, the "New Violin Family" began in 1964 to provide differently sized violins to expand the range of available sounds. The slowdown in development was a practical response to the concurrent slowdown in orchestra and venue size. Despite this trend in traditional instruments, the development of new musical instruments exploded in the twentieth century, and the variety of instruments developed overshadows any prior period. The proliferation of
electricity Electricity is the set of physics, physical Phenomenon, phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism, both being part of the phenomenon of electromagne ...
in the 20th century led to a new category of musical instruments: electronic instruments, or electrophones. The vast majority produced in the first half of the 20th century were what Sachs called "electromechanical instruments"; they have mechanical parts that produce sound vibrations picked up and amplified by electrical components. Examples include
Hammond organ The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Multiple models have been produced, most of which use sliding #Drawbars, drawbars to vary sounds. Until 1975, Hammond organs ...
s and
electric guitar An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external Guitar amplifier, amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar (however combinations of the two - a Semi-acoustic guitar, semi-acous ...
s. Sachs also defined a subcategory of "radioelectric instruments" such as the theremin, which produces music through the player's hand movements around two antennas. The latter half of the 20th century saw the evolution of
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating Waveform, waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synth ...
s, which produce sound using circuits and
microchips An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistor ...
. In the late 1960s, Bob Moog and other inventors developed the first commercial synthesizers, such as the
Moog synthesizer The Moog synthesizer is a modular synthesizer developed by the American engineer Robert Moog. Moog debuted it in 1964, and Moog's company R. A. Moog Co. (later known as Moog Music) produced numerous models from 1965 to 1981, and again from 2014 ...
. Whereas once they had filled rooms, synthesizers can now be embedded in any electronic device, and are ubiquitous in modern music. Samplers, introduced around 1980, allow users to sample and reuse existing sounds, and were important to the development of hip hop. 1982 saw the introduction of
MIDI MIDI (; Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, Digital electronics, digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments ...
, a
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, users, interest groups, standards organizations and governments. Standardization ...
means of synchronizing electronic instruments. The modern proliferation of computers and microchips has created an industry of electronic musical instruments.


Classification

There are many different methods of classifying musical instruments. Various methods examine aspects such as the physical properties of the instrument (material, color, shape, etc.), the use for the instrument, the means by which music is produced with the instrument, the range of the instrument, and the instrument's place in an
orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large Musical ensemble, instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families. There are typically four main sections of instruments: * bowed string instruments, such as the ...
or other ensemble. Most methods are specific to a geographic area or cultural group and were developed to serve the unique classification requirements of the group. The problem with these specialized classification schemes is that they tend to break down once they are applied outside of their original area. For example, a system based on instrument use would fail if a culture invented a new use for the same instrument. Scholars recognize
Hornbostel–Sachs 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 in 1914. An English translation was published in the ''Galpin Society, Gal ...
as the only system that applies to any culture and, more importantly, provides the only possible classification for each instrument. The most common classifications are strings,
brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is a mixture of chemical elements of which at least one is a metal. Unlike chemical compounds with metallic bases, an alloy will retain all the properties of a metal in the resulting material, such as electrical ...
,
woodwind Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the greater category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone. There are two main types of woodwind instruments: flutes and Reed ...
, and
percussion A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (percussion), beater including attached or enclosed beaters or Rattle (percussion beater), rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or ...
.


Ancient systems

An ancient Hindu system named the ''
Natya Shastra The ''Nāṭya Śāstra'' (, ''Nāṭyaśāstra'') is a Sanskrit treatise on the performing arts. The text is attributed to sage Bharata Muni, and its first complete compilation is dated to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary ...
'', written by the sage
Bharata Muni Bharata Muni (Hindi language, Hindi: भरत मुनि) was an ancient Sage (philosophy), sage who the musical treatise ''Natya Shastra'' is traditionally attributed to. The work covers ancient Indian dramaturgy and Acting, histrionics, espe ...
and dating from between 200 BC and 200 AD, divides instruments into four main classification groups: instruments where the sound is produced by vibrating strings; percussion instruments with skin heads; instruments where the sound is produced by vibrating columns of air; and "solid", or non-skin, percussion instruments. This system was similar to some degree in 12th-century Europe by Johannes de Muris, who used the terms ''tensibilia'' (stringed instruments), ''inflatibilia'' (wind instruments), and ''percussibilia'' (all percussion instruments). In 1880,
Victor-Charles Mahillon Victor-Charles Mahillon (March 10, 1841 in Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=n ...
adapted the ''Natya Shastra'' and assigned Greek labels to the four classifications: ''chordophones'' (stringed instruments), ''membranophones'' (skin-head percussion instruments), ''aerophones'' (wind instruments), and ''autophones'' (non-skin percussion instruments).


Hornbostel–Sachs

Erich von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs adopted Mahillon's scheme and published an extensive new scheme for classification in ''Zeitschrift für Ethnologie'' in 1914. Hornbostel and Sachs used most of Mahillon's system, but replaced the term ''autophone'' with ''idiophone''. The original
Hornbostel–Sachs 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 in 1914. An English translation was published in the ''Galpin Society, Gal ...
system classified instruments into four main groups: *
Idiophone An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the vibration of the instrument itself, without the use of air flow (as with aerophones), strings (music), strings (chordophones), acoustic membrane, membranes (membranopho ...
s, which produce sound by vibrating the primary body of the instrument itself; they are sorted into concussion, percussion, shaken, scraped, split, and plucked idiophones, such as
claves Claves (; ) are a percussion instrument consisting of a pair of short, wooden sticks about 20–25 centimeters (8–10 inches) long and about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter. Although traditionally made of wood (typically rosewood, ebony o ...
,
xylophone The xylophone (; ) is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by Percussion mallet, mallets. Like the glockenspiel (which uses metal bars), the xylophone essentially consists of a set of tuned wooden k ...
, guiro,
slit drum A slit drum or slit gong is a hollow percussion instrument. In spite of the name, it is not a true drum but an idiophone, usually carved or constructed from bamboo or wood into a box with one or more slits in the top. Most slit drums have one slit ...
,
mbira Mbira ( ) are a family of musical instruments, traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. They consist of a wooden board (often fitted with a resonator) with attached staggered metal Tine (structural), tines, played by holding the instrument ...
, and
rattle Rattle may refer to: Instruments * Crotalus (liturgy), a liturgical percussion instrument * Rattle (percussion instrument), a type of percussion instrument * Rattle (percussion beater), a part of some percussion instruments * Ratchet (instrume ...
. *
Membranophone A membranophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by way of a acoustic membrane, vibrating stretched membrane. It is one of the four main divisions of instruments in the original Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument ...
s, which produce sound by a vibrating a stretched membrane; they may be
drums A drum kit (also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums) is a collection of drums, cymbals, and other Percussion instrument, auxiliary percussion instruments set up to be played by one person. The player (drummer) typically holds a pair o ...
(further sorted by the shape of the shell), which are struck by hand, with a stick, or rubbed, but kazoos and other instruments that use a stretched membrane for the primary sound (not simply to modify sound produced in another way) are also considered membranophones. *
Chordophone String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner. Musicians play some string instruments by plucking the Str ...
s, which produce sound by vibrating one or more strings; they are sorted according to the relationship between the string(s) and the sounding board or chamber. For example, if the strings are laid out parallel to the sounding board and there is no neck, the instrument is a
zither Zithers (; , from the Greek word ''cithara'') are a class of stringed instruments. Historically, the name has been applied to any instrument of the psaltery family, or to an instrument consisting of many string (music), strings stretched across ...
whether it is plucked like an
autoharp An autoharp or chord zither is a string instrument belonging to the zither family. It uses a series of bars individually configured to mute all strings other than those needed for the intended chord. The term ''autoharp'' was once a trademark of ...
or struck with hammers like a
piano The piano is a stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather). It is played using a musica ...
. If the instrument has strings parallel to the sounding board or chamber and the strings extend past the board with a neck, then the instrument is a
lute A lute ( or ) is any plucked string instrument with a neck (music), neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. It may be either fretted or unfretted. More specifically, the term "l ...
, whether the sound chamber is constructed of wood like a
guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is usually held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, w ...
or uses a membrane like a
banjo The banjo is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular, and usually made of plastic, or occasionally animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashi ...
. *
Aerophone An aerophone () is a musical instrument that produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes (which are respectively chordophones and membranophones), and without the vibration of the instru ...
s, which produce a sound with a vibrating column of air; they are sorted into free aerophones such as a
bullroarer The bullroarer, ''rhombus'', or ''turndun'', is an ancient ritual musical instrument and a device historically used for communicating over great distances. It consists of a piece of wood attached to a string, which when swung in a large circle ...
or
whip A whip is a tool or weapon designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance or fear of pain. They can also be used without inflicting pain, for audiovisual cues, such as in equestrianism. They are generally e ...
, which move freely through the air; reedless aerophones such as
flute The flute is a family of classical music instrument in the woodwind group. Like all woodwinds, flutes are aerophones, meaning they make sound by vibrating a column of air. However, unlike woodwind instruments with Reed (instrument), reeds, a fl ...
s and recorders, which cause the air to pass over a sharp edge; reed instruments, which use a vibrating reed (this category may be further divided into two classifications: single-reeded and double-reeded instruments. Examples of the former are clarinets and saxophones, while the latter includes oboes and bassoons); and lip-vibrated aerophones such as
trumpet The trumpet is a brass instrument commonly used in classical and jazz musical ensemble, ensembles. The trumpet group ranges from the piccolo trumpet—with the highest Register (music), register in the brass family—to the bass trumpet, pitch ...
s, trombones and tubas, for which the lips themselves function as vibrating reeds. Sachs later added a fifth category, electrophones, such as theremins, which produce sound by electronic means. Within each category are many subgroups. The system has been criticised and revised over the years, but remains widely used by ethnomusicologists and organologists.


Schaeffner

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 pure physics of a musical instrument, rather than its specific construction or playing method, should always determine its classification. (Hornbostel–Sachs, for example, divides aerophones on the basis of sound production, but membranophones on the basis of the shape of the instrument). His system divided instruments into two categories: instruments with solid, vibrating bodies and instruments containing vibrating air.


Range

Musical instruments are also often classified by their musical range in comparison with other instruments in the same family. This exercise is useful when placing instruments in context of an orchestra or other ensemble. These terms are named after singing voice classifications: *
Soprano A soprano () is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range Vocal range is the range of pitch (music), pitches that a human voice can Phonation, phonate. A common application is within the context of singing, whe ...
instruments:
flute The flute is a family of classical music instrument in the woodwind group. Like all woodwinds, flutes are aerophones, meaning they make sound by vibrating a column of air. However, unlike woodwind instruments with Reed (instrument), reeds, a fl ...
,
violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone (string instrument) in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument ( soprano) in the family in regul ...
,
soprano saxophone The soprano saxophone is a higher-register variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument invented in the 1840s. The soprano is the third-smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists (from smallest to largest) of the soprillo saxop ...
,
trumpet The trumpet is a brass instrument commonly used in classical and jazz musical ensemble, ensembles. The trumpet group ranges from the piccolo trumpet—with the highest Register (music), register in the brass family—to the bass trumpet, pitch ...
,
clarinet The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The instrument has a nearly cylindrical bore (wind instruments), bore and a flared bell, and uses a Single-reed instrument, single reed to produce sound. Clarinets comprise a Family ...
,
oboe The oboe ( ) is a type of double reed woodwind instrument. Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin, or hybrid composites. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. A ...
,
piccolo The piccolo ( ; Italian language, Italian for 'small') is a half-size flute and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. Sometimes referred to as a "baby flute" the modern piccolo has similar fingerings as the Western concert flute ...
*
Alto The musical term alto, meaning "high" in Wikt:alto#Italian, Italian (Latin: ''Wikt:altus, altus''), historically refers to the counterpoint, contrapuntal Part (music), part higher than the tenor and its associated vocal range. In SATB, 4-part voi ...
instruments:
alto saxophone The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones were invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s and patented in 1846. The alto saxophone is pitched in E, smaller than the B te ...
,
french horn The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the horn in professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. The double horn in F/B (technically a variety of German horn) is the horn most ...
,
alto flute The alto flute is an instrument in the Members of the western concert flute family, Western concert flute family, the second-highest member below the standard Western concert flute, C flute after the uncommon flûte d'amour. It is the third most ...
,
english horn The cor anglais (, or original ; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated pl., pl, or ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun ...
,
alto clarinet The alto clarinet is a woodwind instrument of the clarinet family. It is a transposing instrument pitched in the key of E, though instruments in F have been made. In size it lies between the soprano clarinet and the bass clarinet. It bears a grea ...
,
viola The viola ( , also , ) is a string instrument that is bow (music), bowed, plucked, or played with varying techniques. Slightly larger than a violin, it has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of ...
,
alto horn The tenor horn (British English; alto horn in American English, Althorn in Germany; occasionally referred to as E horn) is a brass instrument in the saxhorn family and is usually pitched in E. It has a bore (wind instruments), bore that is mostl ...
*
Tenor A tenor is a type of classical music, classical male singing human voice, voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is the highest male chest voice type. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The lo ...
instruments:
trombone The trombone (german: Posaune, Italian, French: ''trombone'') is a musical instrument in the Brass instrument, brass family. As with all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player's vibrating lips cause the Standing wave, air column ...
,
tenoroon The tenor bassoon or tenoroon is a member of the bassoon The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which plays in the tenor and bass ranges. It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood. It is known for its d ...
,
tenor saxophone The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the Alto saxophone, alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key ...
,
tenor violin A tenor violin (or tenor viola) is an instrument with a range between those of the cello and the viola. An earlier development of the evolution of the violin family of instruments, the instrument is not standard in the modern symphony orchestra. I ...
,
guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is usually held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, w ...
, tenor drum *
Baritone A baritone is a type of classical music, classical male singing human voice, voice whose vocal range lies between the bass (voice type), bass and the tenor voice type, voice-types. The term originates from the Greek language, Greek (), meaning ...
instruments:
bassoon The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which plays in the tenor and bass ranges. It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood. It is known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, versatility, and virtuos ...
,
baritone saxophone The baritone saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of instruments, larger (and lower-pitched) than the tenor saxophone, but smaller (and higher-pitched) than the bass. It is the lowest-pitched saxophone in common use - the bass, cont ...
,
bass clarinet The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common Soprano clarinet, soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B (meaning it is a transposing instrument on which a written C sounds as B), but it plays no ...
,
cello The cello ( ; plural ''celli'' or ''cellos'') or violoncello ( ; ) is a bowed (sometimes plucked and occasionally hit) string instrument String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sou ...
,
baritone horn The baritone horn, or sometimes just called baritone, is a low-pitched brass instrument in the saxhorn family.Robert Donington, "The Instruments of Music", (pp. 113ff ''The Family of Bugles'') 2nd ed., Methuen, London, 1962 It is a piston valv ...
,
euphonium The euphonium is a medium-sized, 3 or 4-valve, often compensating, conical-bore, tenor A tenor is a type of classical music, classical male singing human voice, voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice ty ...
* Bass instruments:
double bass The double bass (), also known simply as the bass () (or #Terminology, by other names), is the largest and lowest-pitched Bow (music), bowed (or plucked) string instrument in the modern orchestra, symphony orchestra (excluding unorthodox addit ...
,
bass guitar The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass (), is the lowest-pitched member of the string family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an Electric guitar, electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a lo ...
,
contrabassoon The contrabassoon, also known as the double bassoon, is a larger version of the bassoon, sounding an octave lower. Its technique is similar to its smaller cousin, with a few notable differences. Differences from the bassoon The Reed (mouthpie ...
,
bass saxophone The bass saxophone is one of the lowest-pitched members of the saxophone The saxophone (often referred to colloquially as the sax) is a type of Single-reed instrument, single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass ...
,
tuba The tuba (; ) is the lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass instrument, brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by lip vibrationa buzzinto a mouthpiece (brass), mouthpiece. It first appeared in the mid-19th&n ...
,
bass drum The bass drum is a large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. The instrument is typically cylindrical, with the drum's diameter much greater than the drum's depth, with a struck head at both ends of the cylinder. The ...
Some instruments fall into more than one category. For example, the cello may be considered tenor, baritone or bass, depending on how its music fits into the ensemble. The trombone and French horn may be alto, tenor, baritone, or bass depending on the range it is played in. Many instruments have their range as part of their name:
soprano saxophone The soprano saxophone is a higher-register variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument invented in the 1840s. The soprano is the third-smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists (from smallest to largest) of the soprillo saxop ...
,
tenor saxophone The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the Alto saxophone, alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key ...
,
baritone horn The baritone horn, or sometimes just called baritone, is a low-pitched brass instrument in the saxhorn family.Robert Donington, "The Instruments of Music", (pp. 113ff ''The Family of Bugles'') 2nd ed., Methuen, London, 1962 It is a piston valv ...
,
alto flute The alto flute is an instrument in the Members of the western concert flute family, Western concert flute family, the second-highest member below the standard Western concert flute, C flute after the uncommon flûte d'amour. It is the third most ...
,
bass guitar The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass (), is the lowest-pitched member of the string family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an Electric guitar, electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a lo ...
, etc. Additional adjectives describe instruments above the soprano range or below the bass, for example the
sopranino saxophone The sopranino saxophone is the second-smallest member of the saxophone family. It is tuned in the key of E, and sounds an octave higher than the alto saxophone. An F sopranino (an octave above the Mezzo-soprano saxophone, F alto (also called mez ...
and
contrabass clarinet The contrabass clarinet (also pedal clarinet, after the pedal keyboard, pedals of pipe organs) and contra-alto clarinet are the two largest members of the clarinet family that are in common usage. Modern contrabass clarinets are transposing ins ...
. 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.


Construction

The materials used in making musical instruments vary greatly by culture and application. Many of the materials have special significance owing to their source or rarity. Some cultures worked substances from the human body into their instruments. In ancient Mexico, for example, the material drums were made from might contain actual human body parts obtained from sacrificial offerings. In New Guinea, drum makers would mix human blood into the adhesive used to attach the
membrane A membrane is a selective barrier; it allows some things to pass through but stops others. Such things may be molecules, ions, or other small particles. Membranes can be generally classified into synthetic membranes and biological membranes. Bi ...
.
Mulberry ''Morus'', a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae, consists of diverse species of deciduous trees commonly known as mulberries, growing wild and under cultivation in many temperate world regions. Generally, the genus has 64 identif ...
trees are held in high regard in China owing to their mythological significance—instrument makers would hence use them to make zithers. The
Yakuts The Yakuts, or the Sakha ( sah, саха, ; , ), are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group who mainly live in the Sakha, Republic of Sakha in the Russian Federation, with some extending to the Amur Oblast, Amur, Magadan Oblast, Magadan, Sakh ...
believe that making drums from trees struck by lightning gives them a special connection to nature. 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 A luthier ( ; AmE also ) is a craftsperson who builds or repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" is originally French language, French and comes from the French word for lute. The term was originally us ...
makes only stringed instruments. Some make only one type of instrument such as a piano. Whatever the instrument constructed, the instrument maker must consider materials, construction technique, and decoration, creating a balanced instrument that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Some builders are focused on a more artistic approach and develop
experimental musical instrument An experimental musical instrument (or custom-made instrument) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical ...
s, often meant for individual playing styles developed by the builder themself.


User interfaces

Regardless of how the sound is produced, many musical instruments have a keyboard as the user interface.
Keyboard instrument A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument played using a musical keyboard, keyboard, a row of levers which are pressed by the fingers. The most common of these are the piano, organ (music), organ, and various electronic keyboards, including ...
s are any instruments that are played with a
musical keyboard A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers or keys on a musical instrument. Keyboards typically contain keys for playing the twelve notes of the Western musical scale, with a combination of larger, longer keys and smaller, sho ...
, which is a row of small keys that can be pressed. Every key generates one or more sounds; most keyboard instruments have extra means ( pedals for a piano, stops and a
pedal keyboard A pedalboard (also called a pedal keyboard, pedal clavier, or, with electronic instruments, a bass pedalboard) is a musical keyboard, keyboard played with the feet that is usually used to produce the low-pitched bass line of a piece of music. A p ...
for an organ) to manipulate these sounds. They may produce sound by wind being fanned (
organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (biology), a part of an organism Musical instruments * Organ (music), a family of keyboard musical instruments characterized by sustained tone ** Electronic organ, an electronic keyboard instrument ** Hammond ...
) or pumped (
accordion Accordions (from 19th-century German language, German ''Akkordeon'', from ''Akkord''—"musical chord, concord of sounds") are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free reed aerophone, free-reed aerophone type (prod ...
),Bicknell, Stephen (1999). "The organ case". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), '' The Cambridge Companion to the Organ'', pp. 55–81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Howard, Rob (2003) An A to Z of the Accordion and related instruments Stockport: Robaccord Publications vibrating strings either hammered (
piano The piano is a stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather). It is played using a musica ...
) or plucked (
harpsichord A harpsichord ( it, clavicembalo; french: clavecin; german: Cembalo; es, clavecín; pt, cravo; nl, klavecimbel; pl, klawesyn) is a musical instrument played by means of a musical keyboard, keyboard. This activates a row of levers that turn a ...
),Fine, Larry. The Piano Book, 4th ed. Massachusetts: Brookside Press, 2001. by electronic means (
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating Waveform, waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synth ...
),Paradiso, JA. "Electronic music: new ways to play". Spectrum IEEE, 34(2):18–33, Dec 1997. or in some other way. Sometimes, instruments that do not usually have a keyboard, such as the ''
glockenspiel The glockenspiel ( or , : bells and : set) or bells is a percussion instrument consisting of pitched aluminum or steel bars arranged in a keyboard layout. This makes the glockenspiel a type of metallophone, similar to the vibraphone. The g ...
'', 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. The theremin, an electrophone, is played without physical contact by the player. The theremin senses the proximity of the player's hands, which triggers changes in its sound. More recently, a
MIDI controller A MIDI controller is any hardware or software that generates and transmits Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) data to MIDI-enabled devices, typically to trigger sounds and control parameters of an electronic music performance. They mos ...
keyboard used with a
digital audio workstation A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for Sound recording and reproduction, recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software pro ...
may have a musical keyboard and a bank of sliders, knobs, and buttons that change many sound parameters of a
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating Waveform, waveforms through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synth ...
.


Instrumentalist

A person who plays a musical instrument is known as an instrumentalist or instrumental musician. Many instrumentalists are known for playing specific musical instruments such as
guitarist A guitarist (or a guitar player) is a person who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of guitar family musical instrument, instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists ...
(
guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is usually held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, w ...
),
pianist A pianist ( , ) is an individual musician who plays the piano. Since most forms of Western music can make use of the piano, pianists have a wide repertoire and a wide variety of styles to choose from, among them traditional classical music, ja ...
(
piano The piano is a stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather). It is played using a musica ...
),
bassist A bassist (also known as a bass player or bass guitarist) is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass The double bass (), also known simply as the bass () (or #Terminology, by other names), is the largest and lowest ...
( bass), and
drummer A drummer is a percussionist who creates music using drums. Most contemporary western music ensemble, bands that play Rock music, rock, Pop music, pop, jazz, or R&B music include a drummer for purposes including timekeeping and embellishin ...
(
drum The drum is a member of the percussion instrument, percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophones, membranophone. Drums consist of at least one Acoustic membrane, membrane, cal ...
). These different types of instrumentalists can perform together in a music group. A person who is able to play a number of instruments is called a multi-instrumentalist. According to David Baskerville in the book ''Music Business Handbook and Career Guide'', the working hours of a full-time instrumentalist may average only three hours a day, but most musicians spent at least forty hours a week.


See also

* List of musical instruments *
Folk instrument A folk instrument is a musical instrument that developed among common people and usually does not have a known inventor. It can be made from wood, metal or other material. Such an instrument is played in performances of Traditional folk music, fo ...
*
Experimental musical instrument An experimental musical instrument (or custom-made instrument) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical ...
*
Recording studio as an instrument In music production, the recording studio is often treated as a musical instrument when it plays a significant role in the music composition, composition of music. Sometimes called "playing the studio", the approach is typically embodied by artis ...
* Music instrument technology *
Orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large Musical ensemble, instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families. There are typically four main sections of instruments: * bowed string instruments, such as the ...


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References

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Further reading

* * Music Library Association (1974). ''Committee on Musical Instrument Collections. A Survey of Musical Instrument Collections in the United States and Canada'', conducted by a committee of the Music Library Association, William Lichtenwanger, chairman & compiler, ed. and produced by James W. Pruitt. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Music Library Association. xi, p. 137, '' *


External links

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