Glossary of musical instruments


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Jun 04, 2023

Glossary of musical instruments

You can vote for over 250 instruments in the Classic 100: Your Favourite

You can vote for over 250 instruments in the Classic 100: Your Favourite Instrument. We've put together a glossary of the instruments on the voting list so you can find out more about any instruments you're interested in.

Did we miss something? You can manually add any instrument to your list when you vote in the Classic 100: Your Favourite Instrument. Voting is open until 9am on Monday 5 June.

Jump to different sections of the glossary below:

A box-shaped family of instruments which is played by squeezing and expanding air out of reeds/pipes. The accordion can be played using keyboard keys, buttons or both. The person playing an accordion is called an accordionist.

A folk lute of the Jola people in West Africa, it has a skin-headed gourd body, two long melody strings, and one short drone string.

A double reed (oboe-like) wind instrument from West Africa, especially among the Hausa and Kanuri peoples. It has a conical wooden body and a cup-shaped bell which can be covered in leather. The algaita has open holes for fingering instead of keys.

A very long wooden trumpet of pastoral communities in the Alps of European countries. It ranges from just under two metres to more than five metres, at times divided into sections. It is quoted by Beethoven at the end of the "Pastoral" Symphony (No. 6).

A musical instrument made of graduated bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame, popular among the Sundanese people from West Java in Indonesia. The tubes are carved to produce a resonant pitch when struck or shaken. It is usually played by a group of people with assigned notes, similar to handbell ensembles.

A six-stringed musical instrument fretted and tuned like a guitar, but with a curved bridge so it can be bowed like a cello, and thus similar to the bass viola da gamba. The instrument is sometimes also called a guitar violoncello. It was invented in the late 18th century by Austrian instrument makers and made famous through a sonata of the same name by Schubert.

A bamboo duct flute of Ghana which has become the country's most popular neo-traditional instrument. Ghanaian composer and teacher Ephraim Amu developed the modern atenteben in the mid-1940s by changing it from a five note transverse flute to a vertical instrument capable of playing a two octave diatonic scale. Performers have developed techniques to increase the melodic range of the atenteben so it can play chromatic scales in any key, through cross-fingering, half-holing, and overblowing to achieve harmonics.

A box zither of German origin, popular in the United States from the late 19th century. It uses a series of bars individually configured to mute all strings other than those needed for the intended chord. The instrument was patented by Charles F. Zimmermann in 1882.

A gourd-resonated xylophone from West Africa with a distinctly nasal timbre. There are two types of balafon: fixed keys and free keys. In a fixed key system, keys are suspended by leather straps just above a wooden frame, under which are hung graduated-size gourd resonators. In a free key balafon, the keys are placed independently on any padded surface. Balafon keys are traditionally made from rosewood, dried slowly over a low flame, and then tuned by shaving off bits of wood. It is played using two gum-rubber-wound mallets.

A Russian stringed musical instrument with a triangular wooden, hollow body, fretted neck and three strings. The soundboard is usually constructed from four strips of Russian spruce or silver fir and the slightly arched belly of seven pieces of maple. The note range differs according to its size and there are orchestras which consist solely of different balalaikas. Balalaikas are often used for Russian folk music and dancing but have also been used in royal occasions such as Peter the Great's grand orchestral procession of 1715.

A type of concertina (like an accordion) particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It doesn't have register switches like a true accordion. The bandoneon is a typical instrument in most tango ensembles and was popularised by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla.

A Ukrainian plucked string folk instrument which combines elements of the zither and lute. Up until the 1940s, the bandura was also often called a kobza, a similar instrument considered the precursor of the bandura. The bandura has an oval wooden body; a short, fretless neck attached to a soundboard in an off-centre position; four to eight bass strings running from the neck of the instrument to the body; and 30 or more (sometimes more than 60) chromatically tuned treble strings stretched over the soundboard. Many traditional bandura players were blind musicians. It was often used to accompany epic ballads in Eastern European courts.

A string instrument with a membrane resonator made from skin or plastic material stretched over a circular frame or cavity. The banjo was developed through African American culture in the 18th century and is closely associated with music such as bluegrass. It is also widely used in American folk and country music.

An ancient Indian flute which features in classical Hindustani music and literature. It is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Some modern bansuri designs come in ivory, fibreglass and various metals.

A mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows and one or more ranks of pipes often housed in a highly-decorated wooden case. The barrel organ is activated either by a person turning a crank, or by clockwork driven by weights or springs. Music is encoded onto wooden barrels (or cylinders), which, when inserted to the organ, can be automatically played (similar to a piano roll). The player of a barrel organ is known as an organ grinder.

An 18th century bowed string instrument similar to the viol, but distinguished by an extra set of pluckable strings which can also be used for harmonic effects. The baryton was associated especially with Joseph Haydn and the Esterházy court during the 1760s and 70s. Not to be confused with barytone, a brass instrument or baritone, a moderately low male voice.

A double reed woodwind instrument which plays an octave lower than a soprano (common) clarinet. It is heavier in weight and deeper in timbre.

A large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. A bass drum is typically cylindrical, with the drum's diameter much greater than the depth, with a struck head at both ends of the cylinder. There is usually some way of adjusting the heads' tension either by threaded taps or by strings.

The bass guitar is similar in appearance to the common guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and either four or six strings. It is played with the fingers and thumb or a pick. it is the lowest-pitched plucked string instrument which can be played acoustically or with electric amplification.

A woodwind instrument in the double reed family, with a wide range of notes and distinctive timbre: low and sonorous at the bottom, expressively plaintive at the top. The bassoon is typically made from wood and built in several joints, sometimes doubling back on itself and the shape is what gives it the timbre. It is a non-transposing instrument, with music written at pitch using appropriate clefs.

A brass musical instrument several feet in length which incorporates telescopic tubing like the trombone. It was probably invented by radio comedian Bob Burns in the 1910s.

A ten-stringed box lyre instrument from the Amhara people of Ethiopia, exclusively used as a melodic instrument in zema, spiritual Amhara music. According to oral tradition, the begena, also called David's Harp, was the instrument given by God to King David. During Lent, the instrument is often heard on the radio and around churches.

A percussion instrument consisting of vertically nested upside down metal bowls. The bowls are held in place by a rod which spaces each bowl slightly apart. A tall wooden frame holds the rod and its attached bells firmly in place. The instrument can be played with a metal mallet which can strike individually or slide through the graduated bowls to create a glissando effect.

A percussive, single-stringed musical bow, originally from Africa, that is now commonly used in the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. The berimbau leads the capoeiristas movement — the faster the instrument plays the faster they move. It has a twangy timbre, with the tell-tale sound of a rattle.

An ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells, played melodically. They are also called chime bells and some have been dated at between 2,000 to 3,600 years old. They were hung in a wooden frame and struck using a wooden hammer and rod to create the melody.

A Japanese lute traditionally used to accompany readings of Japanese sacred text or epic poems. Biwa's precursor was brought from China in the late 7th century, probably the pipa. The instrument has a pear-shaped body with a short neck, four or more wooden frets, a shallow wooden bridge, and four or five strings played with a large pick called a bachi.

A single-headed frame drum of Ireland that uses an animal skin or synthetic membrane which is nailed to one side of the frame. It is played either with the hand or, more commonly, a stick and it has a contraption to hold the drum over the player's body. The instrument was associated with folk ritual and was played in festival processions; it has survived primarily in association with the festival of St Stephen's Day which occurs on December 26.

The sounds produced using the human body, such as clapping, patting, finger-snapping and stomping.

A pair of Afro-Cuban single-headed hand drums with conical or cylindrical hardwood shells, joined together horizontally. They are played by being struck with both hands, most commonly in an eight-stroke pattern called martillo (hammer). Bongos are mainly used in the rhythm section of son cubano and salsa ensembles, often alongside other drums.

A percussion instrument consisting of lightweight, hollow, colour-coded plastic tubes, pitched by length. Sounds are produced by hitting the tubes against surfaces (including the body), against one another, or by striking the tubes with mallets. The idea arose from making music from junk objects and was patented in 1998 by Craig Ramsell. Because of its affordability, boomwhacker sets are popular instruments for primary school children.

A Greek long-necked lute resembling the mandolin. The bouzouki has a round wooden body, with metal strings arranged in three or four double courses over a fretted fingerboard. The musician plucks the strings over the soundhole with a pick (plectrum) held in the right hand, while pressing on the strings on the fingerboard with the fingers of the left hand. The bouzouki is still played in Greece's popular music today.

A pitched, valveless brass instrument. The player controls its pitch by changing their mouth shape (embouchure). The Australian military uses bugle calls to signal different times of day, with The Rouse, The Reveille and The Last Post being the most common. The Last Post is also played at army funerals to indicate that a soldier has gone to their final rest.

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 large circles produces a roaring vibrato sound. It is found in many different places and across different cultures including Ancient Greece and Australian First Nations traditions, though the oldest specimen is found in modern Ukraine and dated to 18,000 BC.

A box drum of Latin America, especially Peru. It is hollow and commonly made out of wood, played by slapping the front or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands, fingers, or sometimes implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks. It is used to accompany dancers.

A type of gun on wheels used in military attacks and commemorative occasions, included in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

A sound-making device in any type of vehicle. Older horns sound more like a "honk" while modern ones sound more like a "beep". George Gershwin's American in Paris used car horns as part of the orchestra.

A series of cast bronze bells hung in fixed suspension and tuned in chromatic order so that they can be played harmoniously together. They are struck with clappers connected to a keyboard of wooden batons and pedals which can be played with hands and feet. Carillons are often housed in bell towers and usually owned by churches, universities, or municipalities.

A pair of wooden clappers which is played by striking them against each other, sometimes in rapid succession. In modern times castanets are associated with Spanish dances, but this has not always been the case historically. In the 20th century, composers began to write works featuring the castanets as a solo instrument.

A small, piano-like instrument with a distinct metallic tone colour. The celesta was invented and patented in 1886 by Victor Mustel in Paris. Pressing a key on the keyboard triggers a felt hammer which strikes the top of a sound plate. Beneath the steel plate is a wooden resonator. The celesta has a pedal for damping. The celesta is a transposing instrument, with notes sounding an octave higher than the written pitch.

A bowed (sometimes plucked and occasionally hit) string instrument of the viol family. It has a rich and versatile timbre and playing range and a large repertoire of solo, chamber and orchestral works. Also known as the violoncello, its four strings are tuned in perfect fifths: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3.

An instrument composed of a large, trapezoidal box on legs with metal strings stretched across its top and a damping pedal underneath. It was invented by V. Josef Schunda in 1874 in Budapest as a modification to another instrument called the hammered dulcimer. It is a very popular instrument in Hungary and other Eastern European countries. Franz Liszt called it the "Hungarian piano".

A low brass instrument that developed from the upright serpent over the course of the 19th century in Italian opera orchestras, to cover the same range as a tuba or contrabass trombone. This instrument is unique to Italy and was favoured by composers including Paganini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi. A wooden version of the cimbasso remained popular until at least the mid 1830s but the modern instrument is made of brass with valves to control the pitch changes.

A renaissance string instrument which uses metal string courses that produces a bright and cheerful timbre in contrast with the mellower gut string instruments. The back of the cittern is flat, making it cheaper to make and more portable than the lute. The range and versatility, however, is much narrower than the modern guitar.

Wooden clappers used under a wide variety of names by Indigenous Australians. Clapsticks are important in accompanying sacred ceremonies and dances.

A woodwind instrument which has a cylindrical body, played with a single reed, controlled with register keys and made in a variety of sizes and tonalities. Clarinets comprise a large family of instruments of differing sizes and pitches, the most common being the B flat soprano clarinet. The clarinet is used in classical music, military bands, klezmer, jazz, and other styles.

A stringed rectangular keyboard instrument that was used largely in the Late Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. The clavichord produces sound by striking brass or iron strings with small metal blades called tangents. Vibrations are transmitted through the bridge(s) to the soundboard. Historically, it was mostly used as a practice instrument and as an aid to composition, not being loud enough for larger performances.

The smallest of the squeeze-box family, a concertina is a hexagonal- or octagonal-shaped bellows-blown instrument, with buttons parallel to the bellows on both sides. It is similar in workings to an accordion, but the shape is different (the accordion is rectangular and has its buttons or keys perpendicular to the bellows). The concertina was developed independently in both England and Germany. The English version was invented in 1829 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, while Carl Friedrich Uhlig introduced the German version five years later, in 1834. It is used in classical as well as folk music in many parts of the world.

The contrabassoon, also known as the double bassoon, is a larger version of the bassoon, sounding an octave lower. It is played with a larger reed, and comes in segments just like a bassoon, with keys and other mechanisms to control the super low pitch.

A double reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family, it is approximately one and a half times the length of an oboe. Oboists typically double on the cor anglais when required as the fingering and playing technique used for the cor anglais is essentially the same as that of the oboe. The term cor anglais is French for English horn, but the instrument is neither from England nor related to the various conical bore brass instruments called "horns". Its appearance somewhat resembles depictions of angels in the Middle Ages paintings and in German-speaking countries gave rise to the term "angel's horns" which shifted linguistically to "English horns".

A brass instrument similar to the trumpet but distinguished from it by its conical bore, more compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The three valves are in most models placed after the main tuning slides about halfway along the sounding length of tubing. Not to be confused with the Renaissance and early Baroque cornetto which is a wooden, bell-shaped instrument with finger holes.

A wooden, lip-vibrated wind instrument with finger holes and a cup-shaped mouthpiece popular from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 17th century. Town musicians continued to use it up until the 19th century. It is different to the modern cornet which is a valved brass instrument.

A hand percussion instrument originally derived from bells worn by free-roaming livestock. The instrument initially and traditionally has been metallic; however, contemporarily, some variants are made of synthetic materials. In classical music, the cowbell is strongly associated with the sound of the Alps and used by composers including Mahler and Richard Strauss.

Tuned glass rods which are played by rubbing them with wet fingertips to produce an ethereal pitched sound. Developed by Bernard and François Baschet in 1952, the instrument is also known as the crystal organ.

A series of tuned discs made from bronze or brass. They are played with a hard mallet. However, they may also be played by striking two discs together in the same manner as finger cymbals, or by bowing. The name comes from the Greek crotalon, for a castanet or rattle.

A double reed instrument of the woodwind family, most commonly used during the Renaissance period. The mechanism is somewhat similar to a bagpipe. A double reed is mounted inside a long windcap. Blowing through a slot in the windcap produces a musical note. The pitch of the note can be varied by opening or closing finger holes along the length of the pipe. One unusual feature of the crumhorn is its shape; the end is bent upwards in a curve resembling the letter 'J'.

A Brazilian friction drum which consists of a wooden stick fastened at one end inside a drum in the centre of the drumhead, rosined and can be rubbed with a cloth. Changing tension on the head of the drum changes the range of pitch. Cuíca is frequently used in carnivals and samba music. It is sometimes called "the laughing gourd" for its sound effects.

A common percussion instrument often used in pairs, consisting of thin, normally round plates of various alloys. Most cymbals are unpitched, although there are some smaller variety such as crotales which can be tuned. Crash, ride and hi-hat cymbals are the most common cymbal types which can be used in bands and orchestras. A player of cymbals is known as a cymbalist.

A small, single-headed Middle Eastern frame drum similar in shape and playing method to a tambourine, comprising of stretched skin across the frame and jingling bells. Many Middle Eastern instruments use glue to fix the head to the frame while in modern tambourines the head is nailed to the frame and rod-tensioning is occasionally applied.

A one-string Vietnamese instrument, also called a monochord or a one-stringed zither. It has traditionally been played by blind musicians and is a central part of Vietnamese folk music.

A Vietnamese plucked lute with three strings, a trapezoidal wooden body and very long wooden neck with ten raised frets. Players formerly used silk strings, but since the late 20th century have generally used nylon.

A two-stringed Vietnamese musical instrument used in Vietnamese classical and folk music. The 'moon-shaped' wooden body is circular. The strings, of silk or nylon, are stretched over a long neck with eight wooden or bamboo frets.

A Vietnamese two-string bowed fiddle similar to the Chinese erhu. There are many varieties of this fiddle, differing according to the size of the resonator and the length of the neck.

A plucked Vietnamese zither which has a long soundbox with the steel strings, movable bridges and tuning pegs positioned on its top. It is related to Chinese guzheng, Japanese koto, Korean gayageum and others.

An Indian double-headed drum widely used in folk music. The two drum heads produce different pitches and there are mechanisms inside the heads which can be adjusted to alter the pitches. The dhol is a bigger version and is played with sticks. The dholak is more portable and is played by a combination of hands and sometimes a ring on the player's thumb. These drums were normally used in Indian classical dance and were incorporated into Indian film music. Indian immigrant diaspora use the dholak in folk music worldwide.

A long wood wind instrument of the Australian First Nations people. It is made out of Eucalyptus limb which has been hollowed out by termites and is played using a technique called "circular breathing". The didgeridoo/yidaki is played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing and for solo or recreational purposes.

A long-necked fiddle of North India and Pakistan used primarily to accompany popular and religious urban songs. Its body has a wooden resonator like that of the sāraṅgī, waisted and rectangular, covered by a membrane soundtable; the neck, however, is more like a sitār (but smaller), with a convex wooden fingerboard and thick, curved brass frets.

A Chinese transverse flute usually made from bamboo, though other woods or stone can also be used. It is widely used in Chinese folk music as well as traditional Chinese opera and orchestra.

A rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa. The body is carved from hard wood and the drum head is most commonly made from the raw hide of a goat. It is a very versatile instrument.

A long-necked fretted lute from Central Asia and Iran. The dotār has a long, slightly tapering neck, a belly made of mulberry wood, frets and (originally) two strings which used to be of silk or gut but now can be made with steel strings.

The largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in use. It has four or (less often) five strings and sounds an octave lower than the cello. Double bass/upright bass is used most commonly as part of the modern Western orchestra.

A collection of instruments which include different-sized drum heads and cymbals. It is a standard part of many bands and can often be played by a single player using hands and feet.

An ancient Armenian double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood and also known as the tsiranapohk ("apricot tree pipe"). It has eight finger holes and one thumb hole. The tuning is traditionally untempered and diatonic, though chromatic notes and microtones can be obtained by partially covering finger holes. There are similar woodwind instruments from Central Asia and the Middle East but the duduk is distinctly Armenian.

A boxed zither-type instrument with more than one string but without a keyboard, often in a trapezoidal shape. It is played by hitting the strings with hammers. Many scholars reserve the term 'dulcimer' for an instrument played with hammers, calling it a 'psaltery' when the plucking technique is used. A particular reference has been made to Appalachian dulcimer which developed in the 19th century Appalachian Mountains migrant community in the US, but dulcimer itself has existed since ancient time.

A keyboard instrument which produces sound by striking a series of tuning forks with felt-covered hammers. It was designed by Thomas Machell in the 1860s as a portable, lightweight and pitch-stable instrument, although it has a limited range of dynamics. The dulcitone is a transposing instrument, with notes sounding an octave higher than the written pitch. Its part is often substituted by the glockenspiel.

A rectangular log drum made from a hollowed-out tree trunk. Ekwe is the instrument of the Igbo people made and played in eastern part of Nigeria and Cameroon.

A guitar which requires external amplification and electricity to operate, unlike the acoustic guitar which uses manual resonators (although semi-acoustic guitars also exist). Because of the amplification, several sound effects are possible in electric guitar such as reverb, distortion and overdrive.

A Chinese two-stringed bowed musical instrument sometimes known in the Western world as the Chinese violin or a Chinese two-stringed fiddle. It is part of the larger huqin family. Traditionally, python skin was used to cover one end of the resonator, although it can also be made from synthetic material.

A medium-sized, three or four valve conical-bore tenor-voiced brass instrument. Its name means "sweet-voice" from Greek derivations. The instrument was invented by Sommer of Weimar about 1843 as the 'euphonion'.

A percussive instrument comprising a metal bar and a metal scraper which is played by scraping up and down the bar. The ferrinho is used to mark the rhythm in funaná, a musical genre in Cape Verde.

A generic term for a bowed string instrument. Colloquially, it is applied to members of the viol family, especially the violin. Other candidates include the rebec and crwth.

A type of valved brass bugle developed in Germany in the early 19th century from the traditional valveless bugle. The instrument resembles the trumpet and cornet but has a wider, more conical bore.

A term used for a vast number of wind instruments from the modern orchestral woodwind to folk and art instruments of many different cultures. A flute produces sound by moving a column of air across either a vertical or transverse (horizontal) opening. The modern orchestral flute is a transverse instrument made of metal or wood which produces a warm, silvery tone.

An earlier version of the modern piano, predominantly used from the mid 18th century. Composers such as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven wrote their music for the fortepiano. The tone of the fortepiano is quite different from that of the modern piano, being softer with a faster sound decay.

A brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. The pitch is controlled through how hard the player blows, the shape of their lips, the action of the valves as well as hand placement within the bell.

A large pipe instrument originating in central Slovakia as a sophisticated folk shepherd's flute but for a very low note range. Although it only has three finger holes, a player can play other notes of the scale using overtone technique. Because of its size, players usually play standing up with the instrument against their right leg.

An Indonesian set of instruments popular across the archipelago, but with the most widely known through those from Java and Bali. The word gamelan can refer to the set of instruments as well as the type of music they play. A gamelan typically comprises of mostly metallic instruments and gongs, as well as kendang (hand drums), and can also include instruments like the rebab (fiddle), suling (duct flute), voice and others. The music is typically cyclical, with each cycle marked by the pattern of the gong.

A traditional Korean plucked zither with 12 strings, though some recent variants have more. It is similar to other Asian instruments like the Chinese guzheng, Japanese koto and Vietnamese đàn tranh. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument.

A medieval small horn instrument made from the horn of a chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. The tone has a sweet colour somewhere between a soft recorder and an ocarina. There is an organ stop with the same name.

The ghatam is probably one of the most ancient percussion instruments of India. It is a clay pot with narrow mouth, slanting outwards to form a ridge. It is made mainly of clay baked with brass or copper filings with a small amount of iron filings.

A bowed double-chambered bowl lute with four or more metal strings and a short fretless neck. It is used In Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. The soundbox is carved out of a single piece of wood. The upper orifice is partly covered in the middle by the handle and the lower one is covered by a skin membrane against which the bridge rests.

A musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction. It was invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin and is played by rubbing the player's fingers along the rim of the bowls. Gaetano Donizetti used glass harmonica to accompany the mad scene in Lucia di Lammermoor.

A musical instrument made of upright wine glasses. It is played by running moistened or chalked fingers around the rim of the glasses. The wineglass can be ground to a specified pitch or filled with water to obtain certain musical notes. It is also called "musical glasses".

A percussion instrument consisting of pitched aluminium or steel bars arranged in the layout of a keyboard. The glockenspiel is played by striking the bars with a mallet, similar to a vibraphone. It is popular in orchestral works and bands.

A flat, circular metal disc that is typically struck with a mallet. They can be small or large in size, tuned to a certain pitch or unpitched. The sound produced has a long reverberating decay.

A fretted musical instrument that typically has six strings, though variations exists. It is usually held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while simultaneously pressing selected strings against frets with the fingers of the opposite hand. The most typical guitar has a symmetrical resonator chamber as opposed to other types of plucked string instruments such as the lute, banjo and other types of zither.

A percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a stick or tines along the notches to produce a ratchet sound. It is commonly found in the rhythm section of Latin American music. Playing the güiro usually requires both long and short sounds, made by scraping up and down in long or short strokes.

A wind instrument played by holding a gumleaf against the lips with the fingers. The gumleaf acts as a vibrating valve. Notes can be muted (by cupping the hands), bent, or trilled. A glide from one note to another is possible, as are pulsating, warbling, and "wah-wah" effects. It is played by many Australian First Nations people with leaves drawn from many eucalyptus varieties. The gumleaf is part of a worldwide musical leaf practice which also includes grass flutes in Japan, the pipirma in Nepal, and tree leaf flute in China.

An ancient plucked seven string Chinese musical instrument favoured for its great subtlety and refinement. The guqin resembles another string instrument called guzheng, but guzheng has more strings and moveable bridges. Guqin is not to be confused with huqin, a generic name for A family of bowed spike fiddles.

A Chinese boxed zither. The modern guzheng commonly has 21, 25, or 26 strings and the instrument features moveable bridges. It is similar to the Korean gayageum, Japanese koto and Vietnamese đàn tranh.

An electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935 as a cheaper alternative to pipe organs. It has a particular tone colour due to the mechanics of how the sound is produced and has become a favourite with church organists and jazz trios alike.

A bell designed to be rung by hand. To ring a handbell, a ringer grasps the bell by its slightly flexible handle – traditionally made of leather, but often now made of plastic – and moves the arm to make the hinged clapper strike the inside of the bell. It is typically played as an ensemble with players playing a single or a few bells.

A Swiss invention based on the Caribbean steel pan drum.

A traditional string instrument considered to be the national instrument of Norway. The modern design resembles the violin, but it has eight or nine strings.

A small hand-held instrument consisting of a casing containing chambers of multiple pre-tuned reeds secured at one end. The player uses their mouth to inhale and exhale air through the reeds. The harmonica is also known as the French organ or mouth organ.

A name given to small reed organs, first patented in 1842 by Alexandre-François Debain. The air is blown through a pumping system at the back which gives its nickname as "pump organ". It is more portable than the larger and more complex pipe organ.

A stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard. Normally triangular in outline, all harps have three basic structural components: resonator, neck and strings. The strings are plucked with the fingers. Variation exists as to its size, number and position of strings and pitch altering mechanism such as lever or pedal. A pedal harp player is called a "harpist"; a person who plays a folk harp is called a "harper"; however, the distinction isn't strict.

A stringed keyboard instrument with lever triggers that pluck the strings using quills or plastic plectrums. Its amplifying soundboard resembles a small version of the grand piano. The harpsichord was a popular instrument in the Baroque era, and has enjoyed a revival in the last few decades with musicians' interest in historical performance practices.

A double reed Japanese oboe which has a bamboo body with a reverse conical bore. It is played by using finger holes and the blowing mechanism is similar to a European oboe. The hichiriki is used in gagaku (Japanese court music), where it shares the main melody with the ryūteki flute, and also in native court vocal genres.

A Scottish variant of the bagpipe, played with an enclosed mouth-blown double reed. The modern set has a bag, a chanter, a blowpipe, two tenor drones and one bass drone. It is probably the most recognisable type of bagpipe, being used in military parades since the 18th century.

A mouth organ made from pear-shaped bottle gourds originating in Southern China. It is held vertically and has three bamboo pipes that pass through a Calabash gourd wind chest. It is played by using finger holes on the centre pipe.

A family of bowed spike fiddle popularly used in Chinese music. Instruments consist of either round, hexagonal, or octagonal sound box at the bottom with an upward-protruding neck, strings and tuning pegs. The soundbox was traditionally covered with snake skin or thin wood, though synthetic materials can also be used. Like their Western counterparts, the viol family, huqin instruments can vary in size and range, with the erhu being the most common.

A string instrument that produces sound by a hand crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, activating a keyboard that presses tangents — small wedges, typically made of wood — against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Most hurdy-gurdies have multiple drone strings, which give a constant pitch accompaniment to the melody, resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes. Schubert alludes to a Hurdy-Gurdy Man in his Winterreise song cycle.

A generic name for instruments consisting of flexible bamboo or metal tongues to a frame with a wide variation across Asian and European regions. It can be played by blowing simultaneously with plucking a tine, joint-tapping, or string-pulling.

A traditional two- or three-stringed bowed lyre from Finland and Karelia. Jouhikko strings are traditionally made from horsehair. Jouhikko playing died out in the early 20th century but has been revived and there are now a number of musicians playing it.

An instrument with a set of tuned lamellae, or tongues, fitted to a resonating box or board. The instrument is usually held in the player's hands while the lamellae are plucked by their thumbs. It is also called a "thumb piano". The kalimba is part of the mbira family.

A bowed string instrument used in Iran, Azerbaijan and the surrounding regions. The kamancheh is probably descended from the rebab. The strings are played with a variable-tension bow. In 2017, the art of crafting and playing the kamancheh was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage listing. The kamancheh sounds superficially like the violin.

The Finnish version of a psaltery played throughout the eastern Baltic Sea region, collectively known as 'Baltic psalteries'.

A type of large zither with a thin trapezoidal soundboard that is famous for its unique melodramatic sound. The instrument may have originated in ancient Assyria and was brought to Turkey in the 1700s.

A metal instrument which amplifies the human voice while also imparting a buzzing, rasping quality to it. First developed in the 1850s, it now consists of a cigar-shaped tube of plated metal or plastic with a flattened opening at one end and a smaller, circular opening at the other. A circular disc of animal membrane or equivalent material is held in place over a large hole on the top by a screw-on metal cup. It is played by singing or humming which, depending on the position of the hand can produce wavering and quacking effects.

A double reed wind instrument which has several sizes used in the traditional court music of Vietnam. It is similar in construction and sound to the Chinese suona and the Korean taepyeongso.

An electronically operated hybrid between a guitar and a keyboard. It has the keys of a keyboard instrument and the body and neck of a guitar and can be worn around the player's shoulder with a strap.

A mouth violin used by Jarai people in Vietnam and Tampuan people in Cambodia. When playing the k'ni, the player's mouth becomes the resonator soundbox for the instrument. It is bowed and fretted. The instrument carries the timbre of the player's voice.

A traditional Japanese spike fiddle, the only one which evolved totally indigenously and is played with a bow. It is played vertically like a cello, though male and female players play differently. It used to have only three strings.

A large 21-string bridge-harp played by the musicians in West African nations. Kora player Seckou Keita has performed at the Sydney Opera House with Catrin Finch (harpist).

A Japanese long zither, one of the family of East Asian zithers which include Chinese guzheng, Korean gayageum and Vietnamese đàn tranh. The modern instrument has 13 silk or nylon strings of equal length and thickness, stretched with equal tension over 13 movable bridges. It is the national instrument of Japan.

A row of small, horizontally laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums. It is part of the larger gong-chime culture of South East Asia and spread around regions of Eastern Indonesia, Southern Philippines, Eastern Malaysia, Brunei and Timor. It is somewhat similar to the bonang, part of the Javanese gamelan ensemble.

A traditional English percussion instrument used in popular folk music. The instrument is constructed from a stout pole with metal "jingles" fastened at intervals along the shaft. These are commonly beer-bottle tops with a one inch washer in between the tops and the shaft to enhance the quality of the sound.

A variation of the traditional tin whistle/pennywhistle, distinguished by its lower pitch and larger size.

A low-range instrument from North Africa consisting of individually-pitched metal plates that are attached to the resonance chambers of a partitioned wooden box.

Any plucked string instrument with a 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. The European lute has strings running in pairs (also called double course), a bowl-shaped resonator and a right-angle turn at the end of the neck where the tuning pegs are located. The strings are attached to pegs or posts at the end of the neck, which have turning mechanisms to enable the player to tighten or loosen the tension to change the pitch.

A stringed instrument which resembles a small harp but is part of the lute family because of how the strings are attached to a yoke. The lyre dates back to 1400 BC in Ancient Greece.

A four-course plucked metal string instrument with a bright timbre popular in 18th century Europe. The mandolin has the same tuning as the violin.

A pair of gourd (pumpkin-shaped) rattles which traditionally contain dried lagenaria seeds. They were an important element in Native American cultural traditions. Nowadays they feature in Latin American popular music. Imitation gourds can be filled with beads or other rattling pieces.

A percussion instrument consisting of wooden or fibreglass tone bars suspended over resonators, played with mallets made of a rubber or plastic core wrapped in yarn. It is typically lower in pitch than the xylophone and the tone is deeper.

A valved brass instrument of intermediate bore profile with a large bell pitched in F or E flat (below the cornet), common in the USA. Various forms of the instrument have been made, most resembling the French horn in appearance but with the valves operated by the right hand.

A small keyboard instrument which is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. It is a popular instrument because of its light weight and portability. The melodica is similar in mechanism to a pump organ and harmonica.

A traditional Middle East woodwind instrument consisting of two short bamboo pipes with reed tips put together. Mijwiz is popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

A traditional African stringed instrument consisting of a bow where a string made of fibre or reed is stretched. The player uses the shape of their mouths while plucking the string on the bow. The mouth bow is used to enhance everyday stories and events.

An ancient double-sided Indian drum constructed from hollow jackfruit wood. It has a treble and a bass head, and is popularly used in Indian classical music.

The musette de cour or baroque musette is a musical instrument of the bagpipe family popular in French courts in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The musette is smaller than its Scottish counterpart. It is mouth-blown with a double reed, and produces a tone similar to that of an oboe.

An automatic musical box contraption which produces notes through a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc to pluck the tuned teeth (or lamellae) of a steel comb.

A hand saw used as a musical instrument, capable of continuous glissando. The sound creates an ethereal tone very similar to the theremin.

A long brass trumpet from Korea, also pronounced nap'al. The only surviving metal wind instrument in Korea, it is constructed in three collapsible sections terminating in a basin-shaped bell.

A double reed instrument from South India.

Similar to the European recorder, a block flute in which air is forced across a fipple by a blockage in the wind chamber. It was traditionally made of wood or cane, with an external duct. The instrument may have from four to six finger holes and may be elaborately decorated by painting or carving of totemic designs.

The traditional classical instrument of South Indian people and used in weddings and temple music. The nadaswaram is similar to the North Indian shehnai with a much longer body made from hard wood and a large flaring bell. It is probably among the loudest non-brass acoustic instrument and is part of the family of instruments known as mangala vadyam.

A flute commonly played in Pacifica cultures including Aotearoa/New Zealand, Hawaii, Taiwan and other Islands. There are a great variety of shapes (some transverse while others vertical). The nose flute is played by placing the hole against the player's nostril rather than their mouth.

Also known as the "key harp", it is the national instrument of Sweden. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when a key is pressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string. The nyckelharpa is similar in appearance to a fiddle or the big Sorb geige or viol. Structurally, it is more closely related to the hurdy-gurdy, both using key-mechanism to change the pitch.

A family 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; it has metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. The most common oboe used in modern Western orchestras is the treble oboe.

Possibly the most ancient vessel clay flute from antiquity. The instrument was modernised in the 19th century by Italian musician Giuseppe Donati. It gained popularity in the 1990s through the video game Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.

An early electronic musical instrument played with a keyboard or by moving a ring along a wire, creating "wavering" sounds similar to that of a theremin. A player of the ondes Martenot is called an ondist.

A family of conical-bored keyed brass instruments invented in early 19th century France to extend the keyed bugle into the alto, bass and contrabass ranges.

A keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played from its own manual with the hands, or pedalboard with the feet.

an electronic musical synthesiser developed in Japan in 2009. It has a body shaped like a quaver note (it also somewhat resembles a tadpole, or a ladle, with sound emerging from a "mouth" on the notehead). It requires two hands to play: while one hand holds and squeezes the "head", the other hand controls the pitch of the tune by placing the finger on a ribbon controller on the stem.

A short-necked plucked lute of the Arab world, the direct ancestor of the European lute, whose name derives from al-'ūd ('the lute').

A barrel-shaped two-headed drum, originating from North India. Its body is similar to a dholak but the heads resembles the tabla which gives it a low, mellow tone that is quite rich in harmonics. The pakhawaj is used in North Indian classical music and maybe an earlier iteration of the mridangam but it is still played today.

An instrument consisting of a number of pipes of graduated lengths, joined together either in the form of a bundle or more commonly in the form of a raft. The pipes are blown across their tops while the lower ends are stopped. In European art music the panpipes have traditionally been regarded as a pastoral instrument referred to by composers such as Telemann and Mozart.

An Armenian bagpipe consisting of a bag, blowpipe, and chanter with single or double reed. The most common parkapzuk has a double chanter (both pipes with finger holes); one pipe is for the melody, the other for the dam (drone). A master of the instrument can play two melodic voices simultaneously. The chanter (pku or pzzuk) can be played separately without the bag.

A keyboard instrument played by corresponding keys with a set of hammers hit against internal strings. The modern form came from Italian inventor Bartolomeo Cristofori, around the year 1700, and was continuously developed until the early 19th century. It has a wide range of notes, is relatively easy to play and remains popular as a household instrument.

A small flute sounding an octave higher than the concert flute.

A pear-shaped plucked lute of China and Korea. It corresponds to the Japanese Biwa and is related to the Vietnamese đàn ty ba.

A small, cylindrical double reed pipe from Korea which is made of bamboo, uses oversized bamboo reeds and has finger holes. There are three main types and countless other variations, distinguished by size, timbre, note-range and repertoire.

A small pipe organ that consists of one rank of flue pipes, sometimes arranged in two rows, to be played while strapped to the player. It has a bellows mechanism which can be operated with one hand.

A plucked, fretless box zither with resonator box shaped like a trapezoid, rectangle, or in the form of a "pig's head". The psaltery is considered the archetype of the zither and dulcimer; which in turn inspired the harp, virginal, harpsichord and clavichord.

A type of trumpet of the Māori people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is usually made with a carved wooden mouthpiece and has a bell made from a shell; either conch (Charonia lampas rubicunda) or triton (Charonia tritonis). Larger specimens are incredibly prized.

A folk friction drum popular in Southern Italy and Hungary. It consists of a soundbox, a membrane covering the opening on one side and a cane inserted in the middle. The player rubs the cane with wet fingers, creating a mellow-sounding timbre.

An Arabic string instrument (see "Kanun").

A South American end-blown flute mostly used by Andean musicians. It is traditionally made from cane or wood. The quena has six finger holes and one thumb hole and the ends can be open or half-closed. To produce sound, the player closes the top end of the pipe with the flesh between the chin and lower lip, and blows a stream of air downward, along the axis of the pipe, over an elliptical notch cut into the end.

A scrape percussion instrument consisting of a cogwheel which is either turned using a handle against one or more stout tongues of wood or metal, or twirled so that the tongues strike the cogs of the wheel. The ratchet has traditionally been used to summon worshippers to church, as the "watchman's rattle" in European traditions, as an alarm signal and a noise-maker at sports gatherings.

A family of spiked bowed string instrument which arose in various parts of Asia, Africa and Turkiye along with the Muslim influence. The rebab has a body, a handle, between one to five strings and a spike to fix the instrument to the ground.

A bowed instrument with gut strings, normally with a vaulted back and tapering outline prominent in medieval and early Renaissance Europe.

A woodwind instrument with a thumb hole and (generally) seven finger holes. It is the chief Western member of the class of duct flutes, i.e. flutes with a whistle mouthpiece, being distinguished from most other members particularly by its thumb hole. Invented (or imported to Europe) during the Middle Ages, it was one of the most common wind instruments of the Renaissance and continued to play an important role in the Baroque era.

A neckbowl lute, the national instrument of Afghanistan, but also common in Pakistan, parts of India and other Central Asian regions. It is descended from the rebab and rebec of the Arab world.

A type of early trombone invented in the 15th century, probably in Burgundy. It has thicker walls than the modern trombone, imparting a softer tone, and its bell is narrower. The name comes from old French words for "pull and push". The sackbut has enjoyed a revival with historical performance of Renaissance music.

A Japanese string instrument often likened to a banjo. It consists of a snakeskin-covered body, neck and three strings. It is the precursor of the Japanese shamisen.

A stringed instrument from the Middle East and Persia which is related to the dulcimer. The sanṭūr consists of a flat trapezoidal wooden frame or box, with stretched metal strings tuned in sets or courses (either the same pitch or an octave apart). The player strikes the courses with small wooden hammers or mallets.

A family of bamboo flutes from Vietnam that embodies the sound of Vietnam's countryside. The most common variety is played in a transverse position like a European flute, although vertical varieties also exists.

A plucked lute of Sarawak and parts of Indonesian Borneo. This lute is traditionally played by men in the Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, and other Borneon groups. The boat-shaped body is carved from a large aro tree trunk, with many modern instruments reaching over a metre in length. In the last century its function has transformed from being used exclusively in ritual ceremonies to becoming a more social instrument.

A short-necked fiddle of South Asia, found both in the art music of North India and Pakistan and, in related forms, in traditional music, especially that of Rajasthan and the North West.

A double-chested plucked lute without frets from northern South Asia. The modern instrument evolved from the rabāb, which is still found in the north-western parts of South Asia, and the rubāb or rabāb of Afghanistan.

A family of valved brass instruments developed by Adolphe Sax at his workshops in Paris in the 1840s and 50s. The name 'saxhorn' became a generic description for the instruments of this family.

The alto member of the saxophone family, pitched in E flat. The alto and tenor saxophones are the two most commonly played saxophones.

The baritone member of the saxophone family, pitched in E flat; the baritone saxophone is exactly one octave lower than the alto saxophone, being longer and wider in size.

The soprano member of the saxophone family, normally pitched in B flat. It is an octave higher than the tenor saxophone.

The tenor member of the saxophone family, normally pitched in B flat; it was formerly found also in C (the C-melody saxophone). The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones.

A low-pitched woodwind instrument probably invented in France around 1590 by Edme Guillaume, a Canon of Auxerre. It has a wooden body over six feet in length which is arranged into a serpentine shape and played using a combination of finger holes and mouth shape (embouchure). For the next 200 years the serpent was a standard instrument in military bands until the 19th century when later developments such as the ophicleide and tuba replaced it.

An end-blown notched flute of Japan. The modern standard version has four finger holes and one thumb hole. Originally imported from China by the early 8th century, and modified around the 15th century. Its varied tone quality has been described from a whispering reedy piano to a metallic forte.

A Japanese three string fretless plucked lute. Since the mid 17th century it has been part of folk music as well as avant-garde composition. Like the European lute, it is primarily used to accompany a singer, or played during solo interludes.

A conical-bored, double reed woodwind instrument popular in Europe from the 12th century. The shawm derives from ancient Middle Eastern instruments which relate to the Indian shehnai and Chinese suona. The European model has a distinct, piercing tone quality. It is the precursor of the modern oboe.

A conical shawm of North India made of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end; it has equidistant finger holes but no thumb hole. The shehnai was part of the Naubat, a traditional ensemble of nine instruments found in the royal court, and is still an important instrument in Indian folk and sacred ceremonies.

A mouth organ of the Han tribe in north and central-eastern China. The sheng resembles a bowl-shaped wind-chest of wood or metal (formerly of gourd), with a blow-pipe extending out from one side, and graduated bamboo pipes through the flat part of the chest. The arrangement of the pipes is said to imitate the shape of phoenix wings.

A high-pitched transverse flute of Japan used in theatre traditions.

A Japanese mouth organ, probably derived from the Chinese Sheng and used in Japanese court music. It has 17 bamboo pipes (two of which have no reed), a lacquered wood bowl and a short mouthpiece.

An ancient musical horn typically made of a ram's horn, used for Jewish religious purposes. It is featured in the bible and is still being used today for occasions of lamentations such as disasters, and jubilations such as celebrations of holy days.

A type of standing bell shaped like a metal bowl, originating in China and Tibet which, when partially filled with water, produce a musical tone in the same way as the musical wineglass. The rim of the bowl is rubbed with a mallet, generating a standing wave at the centre. The resulting vibration yields an audible pitch. The singing bowl is widely used in alternative therapies. In art music, the singing bowl is often featured in John Tavener's music.

A three-stringed skin-covered bass plucked lute used by the Gnawa people in Morocco. It is approximately the size of a guitar, with a body carved from a log and covered on the playing side with animal skin similar to a banjo. The neck is a simple stick with one short and two long strings that produce a percussive sound similar to a pizzicato (plucked) cello or double bass.

A large, plucked, fretted string instrument used chiefly in the classical repertory of the South Asian subcontinent. It became familiar to Western audiences in the late 1960s when it was used by several rock musicians, most famously George Harrison in The Beatles.

A Lithuanian set of wooden Trapezoid-shaped bells made from local hard wood such as oak or ash tree.

A type of bell which produces a distinctive 'jingle' sound, especially in large numbers. It is a variation of the crotale bells and usually shaped like a two- or four-leaves. It is also called "jingle bells" which is the inspiration for the popular Christmas song of the same name. In classical music, Gustav Mahler makes use of jingle/sleigh bells in his Symphony No. 4; Sergei Prokofiev calls for sleigh bells in his Lieutenant Kijé Suite.

A stopped duct flute, which has no finger holes, the pitch being altered by means of a piston or stopper, moved up and down inside the cylindrical tube from the lower end by one hand. Folk versions are normally made of cane or bamboo with a cloth-covered, padded piston-head; modern Western examples are usually of plastic or metal, with a tightly fitting leather washer for the piston head like a bicycle pump. It is played in parts of Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

A side drum that produces a cracking sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. It is a popular instrument in bands and as part of the drum kit.

A type of bass tuba used mainly in marching bands, named after John Philip Sousa (1854–1932). It has a distinct shape: most of the body of the instrument encircles the player's head and shoulders, making it easier to walk and play; and it has a wide bell.

A percussion instrument played by hitting two spoons against each other. Musical spoons are found all over the world in many different cultures.

A Cambodian oboe, similar to the Thai and Lao pi. It has six finger holes and a quadruple reed made of palm leaf. The wooden body has a slight bulge at the centre and a flare at both ends.

A variety of chromatically-tuned instruments made from 55 gallon oil drums and played with rubber-tipped mallets which arose in the 1930s in Trinidad and Tobago, as an accompaniment to Carnival Masquerade.

A bamboo ring flute of Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines. The common end-blown variety is made from a bamboo tube, open at the bottom and closed with a node at the top. A stopper mechanism controls the player's breath. The suling can be part of the Gamelan ensemble in some parts of Java.

The shawm of the Han people in China, played with a double reed and requiring circular breathing. The suona body is usually made from redwood or other hardwood, with seven frontal finger holes and one thumb hole. Its bore is conical and its exterior scalloped in profile. A very small double reed (made from a species of river reed, luwei) is bound with thin copper wire to a hollow metal staple, below which is a lip plate which guides playing position. There is a metal bell loosely inserted in the end of the bore.

Electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals which create sounds whose wave forms are altered by electronic means, and is controlled by keyboard-like manual. The most famous type is the Moog synthesiser, invented by Robert Moog with contributions by pioneer musician Wendy Carlos.

An asymmetrical pair of small, tuned, hand-played drums of North and Central India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The tablā are the principal drums of modern Hindustani music.

The great, booming drum of Japan. It was said that village boundaries were demarcated by the point at which one could no longer hear the taiko being played from the village's centre. Taiko playing demands strength and endurance.

An hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drumheads connected by leather tension cords, which allow the player to change the pitch of the drum by scraping the cords between their arm and body. In the 18th century, talking drum players used tones to disseminate messages, such as news of ceremonies and commands, over large distances.

A metal gong of Chinese origin, brought to Europe centuries ago and becoming part of the Western orchestra. The orchestral tam tam is a bossless 'flat' gong with a slightly convex profile made of forged bronze in a variety of sizes. It has a loud, crashing sound when struck and can reverberate for a long time.

A small single-headed frame drum deriving from Middle Eastern origin, consisting of a shallow frame (usually of wood) covered on one side with parchment (or a plastic material). Small metal discs called jingles (and occasionally small bells), are arranged singly or in pairs, hanging loosely in openings in the frame. In the modern European form the head is nailed to the shell and rod-tensioning is occasionally applied. In many Middle Eastern instruments, the head is glued to the frame.

A family of long-necked string instruments which gave rise to the lute and other variants.

A long-necked plucked drone lute of South Asia, found in both art and traditional music. Its function is to provide a continuous harmonic bourdon or drone to accompany a singer. The player uses the precise timing of plucking a cycle of four strings in a continuous loop to create harmonics which forms the base of the raga, a melodic framework improvisation in Indian classical music.

As a musical instrument, tape is a piece of recorded music which has been altered to create new sounds which may not resemble the original, or which is used as a repeating "looped" mechanism. Composers John Cage, Morton Feldman and others feature tape as part of their compositions and performances.

A string instrument invented by Australian musician and craftsman Peter Biffin during the 1980s. It has a long slender neck and small round body made of Blackwood and four strings. The instrument can be played by both plucking and bowing.

The Western name for spherical slit-drums, often ornately carved, especially in the abstract shape of a fish. The instrument is known as muyu in China, mokugyo in Japan and mokt'ak in Korea, where it is used especially to accompany Buddhist chant. Although regarded as an unpitched instrument, by the late 20th century there were chromatic models.

An instrument of the Western lute family with stopped courses considerably longer than those of a lute and with a separate nut and pegbox for a set of longer, unstopped bass strings (diapasons).

One of the earliest electronic instruments created in the 1920s and named after its maker Lev Sergeyevich Termen. It is played without physical contact by the performer (who is known as a thereminist). The instrument's controlling section usually consists of two metal antennae which sense the relative position of the thereminist's hands. The theremin has been featured in over 100 concert works and more than 35 films.

A long trumpet or horn used in Tibetan Buddhist and Mongolian Buddhist ceremonies. It is often played in pairs or multiples, and the sound is compared to the singing of elephants.

A pair of single-headed, cylindrical drums primarily associated with the Latin American dance band, where they are usually teamed with one or two cowbells; the player's rhythmic patterns also involve hitting the outside of the drum shell. A timbale player is called a timbalero.

The European kettledrums, or timpani, are some of the most important percussion instruments of the orchestra, mainly because they are capable of producing notes of low and definite pitch and so have a significant role in leading the harmony of a composition. The notes may be altered as required during the performance of a work (typically for a change of key), by tightening or slackening the drumhead by means of screws or other mechanisms. Each drum consists of a large bowl-shaped resonating chamber or shell, usually of copper (sometimes fibreglass), with a drumhead of calfskin or plastic covering the open top.

A form of inexpensive and easy to play duct flute, which was developed out of an earlier instrument called flageolet. It is popular in Irish traditional music where players have incorporated traditional pipers' ornaments (cuts, rolls etc.). It has six finger holes; the mouthpiece either has an inset wooden block or is made entirely of plastic. The pennywhistle is the only form which is made from tin plates. The low whistle has a particularly warm tonal quality, which is especially effective for playing slow airs.

An Iranian single-headed goblet drum, often with a carved body which can produce two or three distinct tones. The instrument is now considered a virtuoso solo instrument after the pioneering work of musician Hossein Tehrani in the 1950s.

A toy-size piano with metal keys fixed at one end. They come in many sizes: from small one octave, 18 key, 25 key and 37 key models, either including the black keys or just the white keys on the real piano. Although most were in the form of upright pianos, toy grand pianos exist. The most famous work written for the toy piano is John Cage's Suite For The Toy Piano.

A Russian percussion instrument consisting of a set of small boards on a string which is used to imitate hand-clapping.

A steel rod bent into the shape of an equilateral (or isosceles) triangle, but open at one corner. It is struck with a steel beater which is occasionally tapered to give a heavier or lighter stroke or occasionally with a wooden drumstick. The triangle is a popular orchestral instrument, with an unmistakable unpitched sound which nevertheless always blends with the harmonics.

A brass instrument with a predominantly cylindrical bore. The most common trombones are the tenor and bass counterparts of the trumpet. In its most familiar form the trombone is characterised by a telescopic slide with which the player varies the length of the tube to alter the pitch; hence the term 'slide trombone'. The name derives from the Italian word tromba, meaning big trumpet.

A brass wind instrument played by blowing air through different mouth shapes (embouchures), producing a "buzzing" sound that starts a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the instrument. The trumpet has evolved from valveless models (known as bugles or natural trumpets) to the modern version which has valves to alter the pitch. Since the late 15th century, trumpets have primarily been constructed of brass tubing, usually bent twice into a rounded rectangular shape with the most common trumpet having a tubing length of approximately 1.4 metres.

An instrument from the Central Highlands of Vietnam consisting of graduated bamboo pipes with a notch at one end and a bevelled edge at the other. These pipes are arranged lengthwise and vertically attached together by strings to a flexible stand. The t'rung is played with a stick.

A hand drum of Japanese origin consisting of a wooden body shaped like an hourglass with two drum heads with cords that can be squeezed or released to increase or decrease the tension of the heads. This mechanism allows the tsuzumi player to raise or lower the pitch of the drum while playing, similar to the African talking drum.

The deepest pitched brass instrument, with wide bore, conical profile, and three to six (rarely seven) valves, invented in 1835 by Prussian instrument maker Wieprecht as a bass-tuba, to provide bass or contrabass parts in bands. Since the early 20th century it has been possible to modify the tone through the use of mutes. John Williams makes use of the tuba as a different kind of solo voice in his score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

A set of tuned metal tubes used for bell effects in the orchestra and on the operatic stage in place of the much larger hanging bells. It consists of a series of brass or steel tubes ranging in diameter from about three to seven centimetres; the greater the diameter, the longer the bell tube. It has a sonorous timbre, not unlike church bells but with less overtones.

The turntable has been used as a musical instrument since the 1940s and 1950s when experimental composers began sampling and creating music entirely produced by the turntable. Players are highly-skilled DJs ("disc-jockeys") who develop high levels of hand-eye co-ordination and the ability to find precise points in a song by dropping the needle on a record. Turntables have been used in an orchestral setting by composer Gabriel Prokofiev in his Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra.

A mechanical writing device popular in the 20th century before computer technology became ubiquitous. It is featured as a percussion instrument in American musician Leroy Anderson's comedic piece The Typewriter, written in 1950.

A clay drum of Nigeria, consisting of a water jug with an additional hole, though it can also be made from plastic or fibreglass. It was played by Igbo women for ceremonial uses but is now widely played by percussionists in different musical settings. The player produces a bass sound by quickly hitting the big hole with their hands, and the pitch is altered by how the hand is positioned above the hole.

A bellows-operated set of pipes played by squeezing a bag under the player's arm which is popular in Irish folk music. The Irish for uilleann pipes is píobaí uilleann, which means "pipes of the elbow". The uilleann pipes have three drones and three regulators and are capable of playing two full octaves. The tone is sweeter and quieter than that of other types of bagpipes.

A small four string instrument of the guitar family. The ukulele is derived from a pair of Portuguese instruments first brought to Hawai'i in the late 1870s by immigrants from the island of Madeira. The ukulele (or 'ukulele, a Hawaiian term meaning "jumping flea") developed from the machete, a four-string Madeiran instrument. However, its tuning is taken from the first four strings of the five string Madeiran rajão. Its portability makes the ukulele an increasingly popular instrument in the 21st century.

A percussion instrument consisting of tuned metal bars which is struck with a mallet. The vibraphone is different to other keyboard percussion instruments as it has a fan mechanism underneath each bar which produces a vibrato effect when powered by electricity. The instrument also has a sustain pedal to prolong the sound of the struck steel bars when desired. A person who plays the vibraphone is called a vibraphonist, vibraharpist, or vibist.

A percussion instrument consisting of a piece of stiff wire (bent into a U-shape) connecting a wooden ball to a hollow box of wood with metal "teeth" inside. The percussionist holds the metal wire in one hand and strikes the ball (usually against the palm of their other hand). The box acts as a resonating body for a metal mechanism placed inside with a number of loosely fastened pins or rivets that vibrate and rattle against the box.

A bowed stringed instrument used in medieval Europe, also known as the "medieval fiddle" and similar to a modern violin but with a somewhat longer and deeper body, three to five gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs, sometimes with a figure eight-shaped body. The vielle had its heyday from the 12th to 15th centuries, and was often depicted in visual art of the time — by means of which modern instruments have been reconstructed. It was used by minstrels to accompany songs and French jongleurs when performing "Chansons de Gestes", commissioned poems popular in the 12th and 13th centuries; as well as the favoured instruments of troubadours and trouveurs: musicians synonymous with medieval Europe.

A 15th century fretted plucked Spanish string instrument, shaped like a guitar but tuned like a lute.

A family of string instruments from the Indian subcontinent. Its members include the sitar and tanpura as well as many regional variations.

A bowed string instrument which is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper tone colour. It has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family since the 18th century. The name is a shortened form of viola da braccio, an Italian phrase meaning "viol for the arm" which refers to the way the instrument is held while being played.

A family of bowed string instruments with hollow wooden bodies, long necks and pegboxes where the tension on the strings can be increased or decreased to adjust the pitch of each of the strings. The Italian phrase translates to "viol for the leg", so all instruments in this family are played upright; as opposed to viola da braccio, which are held on the arm like the modern viola and violin. Although there are several types of viols, the bass viol in particular has become synonymous with viola da gamba.

The smallest and highest-pitched instrument of the violin family; a hollow-bodied wooden instrument with tuning pegs attached and played mainly with a bow, although it can also be plucked (pizzicato). It is the most famous member of this instrument family, with a large number of repertoire as a solo, quartet and orchestral instrument. The violin can sometimes be referred to as a "fiddle".

A type of box zither which is similar, but smaller than a harpsichord. The virginal has one set of strings and jacks and operated through a keyboard. It was popular during the European late Renaissance and early Baroque eras as a chamber instrument, a role which later was filled by the piano.

The art of creating sounds with the singer's mouth that approximate or imitate a percussion instrument, as a group of singers, an instrumental ensemble, or solo. It is often done in beatboxing and konnakol style of singing.

The medium to low ranges of male voices.

A group of voices arranged in parts, the soprano-alto-tenor-bass being the most common, although other combinations also exist. The modern choir practice arose out of European medieval monastic and secular traditions.

The male voice with a high falsetto range, overlapping with female alto.

A medium to low female voice range.

A high female voice which can also apply to male children whose voices have not yet broken.

A high male voice.

A horn with an injection-moulded plastic shell which produces a loud monotone note, typically around B flat. It is used at football matches in South Africa. The name was coined from the Zulu word for "welcome" or "unite".

A percussion instrument played by scraping the ribbed surface of a common washboard. In a musical setting, the washboard would be hung around the player's neck and they could use a spoon handle or bottle opener to produce the scraping sound.

A wind and percussive instrument constructed by joining several wooden tubes to form an elaborate gourd trumpet. The instrument is normally wetted in water before playing, and performers can blow and tap the instrument at the same time. The wazza is the instrument of the Berta people of the Blue Nile State in Sudan.

A set of small tubes suspended so that they can be activated by the wind. The tubes may be made of metal, glass, bamboo, stone, porcelain or shell. In the orchestra, the player can activate the chimes by striking it with a hand-stroker.

A friction instrument used on the stage and elsewhere to produce the sound of the wind. It consists of either a barrel framework covered with silk or coarse canvas which rubs against the slats as the barrel is rotated, or an electric fan in which the blades are replaced by lengths of cane.

A vertical notched flute of the Han people in China. It is one of the most venerated of Chinese instruments, possessing a pure and 'natural' tone quality (associated with bamboo) and embodying important associations with the Confucian ethos and cosmology.

An ancient egg-shaped flute used by the Han people in China for Confucian rituals. This egg-shaped flute is made of baked clay, with a blow-hole at its apex and usually between three and eight finger holes distributed in various patterns.

A keyboard-shaped percussion instrument consisting of graduated wooden bars struck by mallets. The term derives from Greek words meaning "sound of wood". In the context of the orchestra, a xylophone refers to a pitched wooden keyboard which is higher than the marimba.

A Chinese hammered dulcimer with a trapezoidal body. The instrument is related to the Middle Eastern sanṭūr and Hungarian cimbalom.

A generic name for Italian double-chantered bagpipes from various regions. The famous Italian carol, "Tu scendi dalle stelle" (You Come Down From the Stars) is derived from traditional zampogna music.

A term referring to a group of stringed instruments which are arranged on top of a flat surface. Unlike the harp and the lute, instruments in the zither family can be taken apart without destroying it. In modern time, the name zither also refers to specific instruments, which are the concert zither, the Alpine zither and the chord zither.

A shawm of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.