Musical instrument


November 27, 2021

A musical instrument, even just an instrument in speech, is an object constructed or modified with the aim of producing organized sounds that respond to specific cultural needs for the production of music.

Historical notes

The history of musical instruments begins with the dawn of human culture, when they were used in rites and ceremonies, and this use continues, naturally, even today, in many non-Western cultures. The date and origin of the first instrument is the subject of debate among scholars. Later, different cultures developed on them the composition and performance of melodies for entertainment, and with the evolution of their application the instruments themselves changed. All musical instruments, except electrophonic ones, have been mentioned in ancient literature, such as the Egyptian inscriptions and the Bible or probably even in earlier times. The human body, capable of generating both voice and percussive sounds, may have been the first musical instrument, or perhaps the hollow stones and logs. Flutes from around 9,000 years ago have been found in archaeological sites in China. The Divje Babe flute found in Slovenia is found to be around 41,000 years old.


Musical instruments can be classified according to various criteria. Among the most widespread is the one based on the use made of it by the instrumentalist, very widespread and widely used in the structure of an orchestra, and the one based on the method of sound production, in the western version known as the Hornbostel-Sachs system, with a predecessor historical in India between 200 BC and after Christ ("Nātyaśāstra / Bharata Muni"). The classification of musical instruments is a separate discipline, for which various systems have been devised over the years. The most common classification criteria are the extent of the instrument, its size, the material it is made of or the way the sound is emitted, as in the best known academic method, the Hornbostel-Sachs classification. The science that studies musical instruments is called organology. It can also take place according to different criteria, for example by differentiating the common characteristics, or the techniques of use, or the field of application, by geographical origins.

For use by the instrumentalist

This is the classification oriented to the structure of the symphony orchestra and is therefore divided into: bowed instruments wind instruments (brass and woodwind) percussion instruments (idio- and membrano (phoni)) keyboard instruments electric or electronic instruments

To the sound output mode

Idiophones or Autophones Membranophones Chordophones Aerophones Electrophones


Related items

Music Organology Ethnorganology

Other projects

Wiktionary contains the dictionary lemma "musical instrument" Wikimedia Commons contains images or other files about a musical instrument

External links

(EN) Musical instrument, in Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (EN, FR) Musical instrument, on Canadian Encyclopedia.

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