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      Musical Instruments

      Not everyone is gifted with an exceptional singing voice. That's where instruments come in! The principal types of musical instruments are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic instruments. Musical instruments have been used since the earliest times, and modern technology has in many cases simplified or improved the construction of instruments, while mechanization has made possible the mass production of instruments of all kinds. It remains true, however, that the production of an instrument of the highest quality still demands the highest degree of individual skill.

      Musical Instruments Encyclopedia Articles

      Featured Articles

      Flute
      Flute, wind instrument in which the sound is produced by a stream of air directed against a sharp edge, upon which the air breaks up into eddies that alternate regularly above and below the edge, setting into vibration the air enclosed in the flute. In vertical, end-vibrated flutes—such as the...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Trumpet
      Trumpet, brass wind musical instrument sounded by lip vibration against a cup mouthpiece. Ethnologists and ethnomusicologists use the word trumpet for any lip-vibrated instrument, whether of horn, conch, reed, or wood, with a horn or gourd bell, as well as for the Western brass instrument. The...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Bell
      Bell, hollow vessel usually of metal, but sometimes of horn, wood, glass, or clay, struck near the rim by an interior clapper or exterior hammer or mallet to produce a ringing sound. Bells may be categorized as idiophones, instruments sounding by the vibration of resonant solid material, and more...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      World Peace Bell
      Organ
      Organ, in music, a keyboard instrument, operated by the player’s hands and feet, in which pressurized air produces notes through a series of pipes organized in scalelike rows. The term organ encompasses reed organs and electronic organs but, unless otherwise specified, is usually understood to...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      pipe organ
      Electronic instrument
      Electronic instrument, any musical instrument that produces or modifies sounds by electric, and usually electronic, means. The electronic element in such music is determined by the composer, and the sounds themselves are made or changed electronically. Instruments such as the electric guitar that...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Moog electronic sound synthesizer
      Stringed instrument
      Stringed instrument, any musical instrument that produces sound by the vibration of stretched strings, which may be made of vegetable fibre, metal, animal gut, silk, or artificial materials such as plastic or nylon. In nearly all stringed instruments the sound of the vibrating string is amplified...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      koto
      Electronic music
      Electronic music, any music involving electronic processing, such as recording and editing on tape, and whose reproduction involves the use of loudspeakers. Although any music produced or modified by electrical, electromechanical, or electronic means can be called electronic music, it is more...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      electronic organ
      Lyre
      Lyre, stringed musical instrument having a yoke, or two arms and a crossbar, projecting out from and level with the body. The strings run from a tailpiece on the bottom or front of the instrument to the crossbar. Most lyres are plucked, but a few are bowed. Box lyres are instruments having a ...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      East African bowl lyre; in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
      Xylophone
      Xylophone, percussion instrument consisting of a set of graduated, tuned wooden bars supported at nodal (nonvibrating) points and struck with sticks or padded mallets. The xylophone possibly originated in Southeast Asia or Oceania and today exists in forms as simple as two or three logs laid across...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      African log amadinda xylophone; property of the Uganda Museum, Kampala
      Drum
      Drum, musical instrument, the sound of which is produced by the vibration of a stretched membrane (it is thus classified as a membranophone within the larger category of percussion instruments). Basically, a drum is either a tube or a bowl of wood, metal, or pottery (the “shell”) covered at one or...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      A Buddhist monk beating a drum as other monks pray in the Ivolginsky Datsan temple, Buryatia republic, eastern Siberia, Russia.
      Guitar
      Guitar, plucked stringed musical instrument that probably originated in Spain early in the 16th century, deriving from the guitarra latina, a late-medieval instrument with a waisted body and four strings. The early guitar was narrower and deeper than the modern guitar, with a less pronounced waist....
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Venetian guitar
      Percussion instrument
      Percussion instrument, any musical instrument belonging to either of two groups, idiophones or membranophones. Idiophones are instruments whose own substance vibrates to produce sound (as opposed to the strings of a guitar or the air column of a flute); examples include bells, clappers, and...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Some of the percussion instruments of the Western orchestra (clockwise, from top): xylophone, gong, bass drum, snare drum, and timpani.
      Bell chime
      Bell chime, (from medieval Latin cymbala, meaning “bells”) set of stationary bells tuned in a musical series, traditionally in diatonic sequence (seven-note scale) plus a few accidentals (sharps and flats). The bells generally number from 2 to 20 and, in the voorslags (automatic clock chimes) of...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Pipa
      Pipa, short-necked Chinese lute prominent in Chinese opera orchestras and as a solo instrument. It has a shallow, pear-shaped body with a wooden belly and, sometimes, two crescent-shaped sound holes. The modern pipa has 29 or 31 frets, 6 on the neck and the rest on the body of the instrument. The...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Musical instrument
      Musical instrument, any device for producing a musical sound. The principal types of such instruments, classified by the method of producing sound, are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic. Musical instruments are almost universal components of human culture: archaeology has...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Children playing musical instruments.
      Bagpipe
      Bagpipe, wind instrument consisting of two or more single- or double-reed pipes, the reeds being set in motion by wind fed by arm pressure on an animal-skin (or rubberized-cloth) bag. The pipes are held in wooden sockets (stocks) tied into the bag, which is inflated either by the mouth (through a...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      bagpipe
      Oboe
      Oboe, treble woodwind instrument with a conical bore and double reed. Though used chiefly as an orchestral instrument, it also has a considerable solo repertoire. Hautbois (French: “high [i.e., loud] wood”), or oboe, was originally one of the names of the shawm, the violently powerful instrument of...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Wind instrument
      Wind instrument, any musical instrument that uses air as the primary vibrating medium for the production of sound. Wind instruments exhibit great diversity in structure and sonority and have been prominent in the music of all cultures since prehistoric times. A system of classification of these...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Dankworth, Sir John; saxophone
      Clarinet
      Clarinet, single-reed woodwind instrument used orchestrally and in military and brass bands and possessing a distinguished solo repertory. It is usually made of African blackwood and has a cylindrical bore of about 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) terminating in a flared bell. All-metal instruments are made but...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Clarinet.
      Keyboard instrument
      Keyboard instrument, any musical instrument on which different notes can be sounded by pressing a series of keys, push buttons, or parallel levers. In nearly all cases in Western music the keys correspond to consecutive notes in the chromatic scale, and they run from the bass at the left to the...
      Encyclopedia / Musical Instruments
      Moog electronic sound synthesizer

      Musical Instruments Encyclopedia Articles

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