Types of Musical Instruments

Types of Musical Instruments

Music has been with humans for a very long time. They used it for many reasons, for example, intimidation, imitation of animal sounds, and communication. People love music so much, and they are willing to create anything that can create the music.


The first musical instruments were human bodies; clapping to create percussion sounds and vocals from their voices. These instruments have evolved into things like drums made from animal skins, and flutes made from bamboo stems used in the earlier days to pianos in this modern world.


Today musical instruments are grouped into 4 broad categories; string, woodwind, percussion, and brass.


With the need to create more artistic effects, there are some instruments that cross the lines. For example, the American Banjo may fall under the string category as well as the percussion category. Another of these is the piano. It has got hammers that produce sound when struck and strings that produce sound by vibrating.
Then computer developed synthetic sounds do not fall in any of the categories.


However, most instruments seamlessly fall into these categories, and they include:

Woodwind Instruments

These are in 2 subcategories; flute and reed instruments.


They create music by making the air within the pipe to resonate. Examples include:

  • Piccolo – This is a small, high-pitchedwind instrument.Woodwind Instruments
  • Recorder – it is a small wind instrument



They create music by causing the reed (a small, flexible wooden piece that is usually near the mouthpiece) to vibrate the air within the pipe. Examples include:

  • Oboes – it has got a double reed.
  • Clarinets – It has got a single reed.
  • Bassoon – It is a large instrument that has got a double reed. It can play rather low
  • English horn – it has got a double reed.


In both subcategories, the resonating air is then released from the instrument at a particular pitch. That gets controlled by the openings in the pipe.

These piped instruments have been with us for a very long time, close to 10, 000 years or more.



Percussion Instruments

Percussion InstrumentsPercussion sounds have filled the air as long as humans have been around. These instruments produce sound when they get hit. Clapping is one of the ways that such sounds get produced. They include:

  • Cymbals – You have to bang or hit them to make sound
  • drums,
  • tambourines,
  • Xylophones – these have rows of bars and are played using a mallet.
  • Chimes,
  • timpani,
  • tam-tam
  • Wood blocks


They are then divided into instruments that do not produce a distinct pitch and those that create musical notes.


Seeing that instruments that fall in the percussion category are not difficult to find, it is little wonder that they followed in the steps of human voices to create musical instruments. That has also led to an immense breakthrough in percussion instruments such as the birth of steel drums in Caribbean music.


String Instruments

In these instruments, one has got to move a string to produce vibrations that create sound. These include:String Instruments

  • Cello – it is a large string instrument.
  • Electric guitars –electronically enhanced stringed instrument.
  • Harps – they have very many strings
  • Violin – it is also called a fiddle and it a small string instrument
  • Ukulele – It is a small string instrument that has got four strings.


There are many instruments that fall in this subcategory hence providing a wide selection for any player. The strings are made to vibrate in many ways; plucking for a guitar, and using a bow for a violin. The first instrument of this kind is a lyre.


Brass instruments

Brass instrumentsThese are of brass or any other metal. They produce music or sound when one blows air into them. The player’s lips should buzz against the mouthpiece then air reverberates inside the instrument to produce sound.

These include:

  • Trumpet – When you play this instrument, your lips vibrate
  • French horn – it has got a long tube
  • Bungle,
  • Cornet,
  • Trombone – it has got a long makeup

Even the saxophone falls in this category.



However, sometimes the saxophone is looked at as a family of its own. The instruments under this category include

  • Basssaxophone
  • Tenor
  • Baritone
  • Soprano
  • Sopranino


Explore these instruments to appreciate the beauty of music.

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