May 10, 2017

Musical instruments

Musical instruments

There are many different musical instruments which vary for historical period and geographical area. Some of them are almost forgotten, others have been modified through the years.

Oftentimes, especially at school, they are divided according to the orchestral system, based on the technique used by the musician to play the instrument (woodwind, percussion…).

But, if we attempt to classify musical instruments from other musical traditions this subdivision is not working well. Following the orchestral classification the tubofono should be placed in the percussion, but it is useful to make clear that the air which determine the pitch.

For our purpose it is better to use the classification introduced by Victor-Charles Mahillon, curator of the Musical Instruments Museum in Bruxelles, and subsequently revised by Eric von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs. In which case, we are able to distinguish the musical instruments depending on the material that determine the fundamental pitch:

  • Idiophones
  • Membranophones
  • Chordophones
  • Aerophones

A fifth class has been added later in order to complete the classification with the electronic and electromagnetic musical instruments:

  • Electrophones