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String Instruments

String instruments are those that produce sound by creating a vibration of the strings. Also called chordophones or stretched instruments, most have strings supported by a neck that is attached to a hollow body. When the strings vibrate, the vibrations transfer to the body of the instrument and the air inside of it, making it audible. This doesn’t apply to instruments that rely on electric amplification, like an electric guitar, which have a solid body, or framed string instruments, such as the harp.

Each string on a chordophone has a different frequency depending on the size, material, and tension, resulting in different sounds. The strings may be plucked, struck or bowed (rubbed) to produce sound, each causing the strings to vibrate in a specific pattern. Some string instruments, like the sarod, have a number of thin extra strings that are not touched but still vibrate when the main strings are struck. These are called...Read More

Learn About Different Types of String Instruments

Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments produce sound when struck by hand or with an object. Often considered the heartbeat of music, percussion provides rhythm, keeps time, and can produce a variety of tones, pitches, and melodic sounds. Percussion is found in almost all types and genres of music, usually playing a fundamental role. Encompassing a wide array of instruments, it typically includes anything that does not fit into the category of string, woodwind, brass, or keyboard. With countless variations, percussion instruments are made of more materials and come in more shapes and sizes than can be listed.

There are two groups belonging to the percussion family: idiophones and membranophones. Idiophones are typically made of a solid material that, when struck, vibrates as a whole to produce sound, like a bell or singing bowl. There are also shaken idiophones, which are vessels filled with a rattling material, like maracas. Most percussion instruments that are not drums are considered idiophones. Membranophones produce sound through...Read More

Learn About Different Types of Percussiom Instruments

Keyboard Instruments

Keyboard instruments are any instruments played by depressing levers, buttons, or keys to produce sound. The most common of these instruments are the piano and organ, but there’s a wide variety keyboard instruments in existence. Nearly all keyboard instruments, especially those associated with Western music, have keys corresponding to notes in the chromatic scale and run from bass at the left side of the keyboard to treble at the right.

As one of the most versatile musical instrument families, keyboards have amassed great importance and popularity. The keyboard allows a performer to play several notes at once and in close succession to one another, a feat that few other instruments can accomplish. Because nearly any composition can be played on a keyboard, whether it’s chordal harmonies, a single melody or a combination of the two, the keyboard has been utilized...Read More

Woodwind Instruments

Woodwind instruments include flutes and reed instruments, both of which produce sound by blowing air into a cylindrical body. Called woodwinds because they were traditionally made of wood, they’re now made of both wood and metal. Woodwinds are set apart from the rest of the wind instrument family because of the way sound is produced. Unlike brass instruments, in which air passes through the player’s vibrating lips, flutes are sounded by directing a narrow stream of air into the instrument and reed pipes are sounded by directing air through one or more thin reeds.

Woodwinds come in a wide variety of types, ranging from simple, improvised instruments to complex, intricate ones. Most woodwind instruments, but not all, are cylindrical and allow air to enter through a narrow opening, which directs the air inside to a sharp edge. As the airstream vibrates inside the instrument, finger holes are opened and closed along the body to create different notes. However, there are flutes and reed pipes that are...Read More

Brass Instruments

Brass instruments are instruments made of metal, typically brass, in which sound is produced by the vibration of air through a cylindrical chamber. Like all wind instruments, these are classified as aerophones, but brass instruments are set apart because the vibrations are caused by the player’s lips “buzzing” against a cup- or funnel-shaped mouthpiece. They are also called labrosones, which means lip-vibrated instruments.

Brass instruments are defined by the way the sound is made and not by whether the instrument is made from actual brass. Therefore, some brass instruments are made of wood and some woodwind instruments are made of brass. Many early lip-vibrated instruments were...Read More