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Accordion

Example:

This instrument is held between your hands and consists of bellows, two sets of reeds, akeyboard for the melody and buttons for bass notes and chords. While playing the keyboard and buttons with your fingers, the bellows are pushed open and closed. To make the sound they pump air through one set of reeds when being opened and through the second set of reeds when being closed.

Autoharp A strummed instrument with strings stretched across a resonating box. Buttons on th autoharp control bars that dampen all strings except the ones needed to produce a desired chord.

Bagpipe

Example:

A wind instrument that is played by blowing air into a pipe leading to the windbag. Air squeezed from the bag into reed pipes. One pipe has finger holes that used to play the melody. The other pipes, called drones, are used to continuously sound one tome each.

Banjo

Example:

A stringed instrument in the guitar family with a long neck, five strings and a round body like a tambourine with an open back. A banjo's strings are strummed or plucked with the fingers.

Banjo

Example:

A stringed instrument in the guitar family with a long neck, five strings and a round body like a tambourine with an open back. A banjo's strings are strummed or plucked with the fingers.

Bass Drum

Example:

The largest drum. It stands upright and is hit on the side. It is used in both orchestras and marching bands.

Bassoon

Example:

This long, narrow woodwind instrument has a double reed. Its wooden tube is doubled back on itself to reduce its height and ends with a bell that points up. Bassoons play the low notes in the woodwind family.

Bodhran An Irish drum whose construction includes two perpendicular pieces of wood at the back used to hold the instrument. It is most commonly played with a stick that has a knob at one or both ends.

Carillon

Example:

A set of bells in a church or bell tower that are played using a keyboard.

Castanets A Spanish percussion instrument that consists of two small shell shaped pieces of wood held together with string. The strings of the castanets are looped over the thumb. Sound is created by clicking the two shells together using the other ingers.

Celesta

Example:

A keyboard instrument with tuned metal bars. When a key on the keyboard is pressed, a hammer hits a metal bar to produce a tone.

Cello

Example:

A stringed instrument that is double the length of a violin and deeper from front to back. It has four strings, is held between the knees, and is supported on the floor with a metal peg. It is played with a bow and has a tone that is much lower and more mellow than a violin.

Chimes A set of tuned metal tubes that hang in rows in a frame. The sound is made by striking the tube at the top edge with a mallet. The chimes are often used by orchestras to create the sound of bells.

Clarinet

Example:

A woodwind instrument consisting of a black cylindrical tube that has a mouthpiece with a single reed at one end, and a bell at the other end. The wooden tube has holes covered by metal keys, which are pressed to change the instrument's pitch.

Clavichord

Example:

An early keyboard instrument consisting of strings stretched across an oblong wooden box, and a brass wedge or tangent. When the key is struck, the tangent rises and strikes the string, causing it to make the sound, which is very soft.

Concertina

Example:

An instrument with expanding bellows like an accordian, but with buttons, instead of keys, for playing the melody.

Congas A tall Afro-Cuban drum with a tapered or barrel-shape, played with the fingers and the hollow palm of the hand.

Contrabassoon

Example:

This instrument is also called a double bassoon. It has a double reed that can play an octave lower than a regular bassoon. Its tube is over 16 feet long and is doubled over on itself four times. The metal bell at the end of the tube points downward.

Cornet

Example:

Similar to a trumpet, the cornet has a partly conical metal tube and is mellower and less brilliant than the trumpet.

Cymbals

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of two round metal plates that create classing sounds when struck together. A single cymbal can also be struck with a stick.

Didgeridoo A long bamboo or wooden tube, played like a trumpet by Australian aborigines.

Double Bass

Example:

The largest and lowest-pitched instrument in the string family. The double bass rests on the floor on a metal peg; double bass players often stand when they perform.

Drum

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylinder with a skin stretched tightly over one or both ends. The skin is hit with the hands or drumsticks.

Dulcimer

Example:

An early stringed instrument whose strings are stretched across a wooden sound box and hit with small hammers.

English Horn

Example:

A woodwind instrument with a double reed that is similar to an oboe, but longer, and with a pear-shaped bell. Its tone is lower and mellower than an oboe.

Fiddle

Example:

The highest pitched member of the string instrument family. It has a shallow wooden body, four strings that are tuned with pegs, and it is played with a bow.

Finger cymbals Tiny cymbals that are played by putting one on the thumb and the other on the index or middle finger.

Flute

Example:

A small, cylindrical woodwind instrument, usually made of silver, that is held sideways to the mouth. It is a tube with one open end and one capped end. Sound is created by blowing across a mouthpiece at the capped end of the instrument. Its pitch is changed by pressing the metal keys that cover holes along the tube.

French Horn

Example:

A brass wind instrument with a conical tube that's bent into a circle, a funnel shaped mouthpiece, and a wide bell. The modern French horn has valves that allow it to play a complete chromatic scale.

Glockenspiel

Example:

A percussion instrument with a set of steel bars arranged like the keyboard of a piano. It is played either with two hammers, or with a piano keyboard.

Gong

Example:

A metal disc with a turned down rim that makes a loud, booming sound when struck with a mallet.

Guitar

Example:

A stringed instrument with a long neck and a flat, hollow body. Its strings are plucked or strummed with the fingers.

Harmonica

Example:

A wind instrument consisting of a set of metal reeds inside a wooden or plastic case, with a metal cover plate. The reeds vibrate to produce pitches when air is blown or drawn through the instrument. Forcing air into a hole by blowing creates one pitch, and drawing air through the same hole by sucking creates a different pitch.

Harmonium

Example:

A keyboard instrument that looks like a small organ. The sound on the harmonium is made by pushing air through metal reeds. The player uses foot pedals to pump the air.

Harp

Example:

This string instrument dates back to pre-historic times. The modern harp has a large triangular frame with strings stretched vertically across the triangle. The strings are graduated in length from longest/lowest pitches to shortest/highest and there are pedals that can be used to raise the pitch of each string by half steps. The sound is created by plucking the strings with fingers.

Harpsichord

Example:

A keyboard instrument that was an ancestor of the piano. When the keys are pressed, the strings are plucked by quills. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to make changes in dynamics playing the harpsichord.

Kettle Drum

Example:

The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Its name comes from the large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch. Also called timpani.

Lute

Example:

An ancestor of the guitar, this string instrument with a pear-shaped body has its strings arranged in pairs. Its strings are plucked.

Lyre An ancient harp-like string instrument.

Mandolin

Example:

A small, stringed instrument of the lute family. It has a pear shaped body, strings in four pairs and a neck similar to a guitar.

Maracas A pair of rattles made from hollowed out gourds, containing seeds or dried beans. Maracas are widely used in Latin America.

Maracas A pair of rattles made from hollowed out gourds, containing seeds or dried beans. Maracas are widely used in Latin America.

Marimba

Example:

A percussion instrument that consists of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard. A series of hollow tubes beneath the bars allows the sound to resonate. The bars are struck with mallets.

Metallophone A percussion instrument with a series of metal bars of varying pitch suspended over a resonance box. The instrument is struck with a hammer or mallet.

Oboe

Example:

A woodwind instrument made of a conical tube with a double reed stuck into the top. Sound is made by blowing through the double reed. The pitch is changed by opening and closing holes on the sides of the instrument.

Organ

Example:

A keyboard instrument on which sound is produced by forcing air through pipes. Each pipe sounds one tone, and is controlled by keyboards and pedals.

Piano

Example:

A stringed keyboard instrument. Its strings are struck by hammers which are connected to the keys. There are 88 keys on a modern piano, and each one is a different note. It was originally called pianoforte because it could play both soft (piano) and loud (forte).

Pianoforte

Example:

This is the original name for the modern piano, which comes from the fact that a player could play both soft (piano) and loud (forte), unlike its harpsichord ancestor.

Piccolo

Example:

A small flute that sounds an octave higher than a regular flute. It gets its name from the Italian word for "little" - short for flauto piccolo, or little flute.

Recorder

Example:

A woodwind instrument consisting of a wooden tube, at the top of which is a whistle-like mouthpiece. The recoder has a softer tone than the flute, and it is held vertically, not horizontally.

Sandblocks Wooden blocks covered with sandpaper that are rubbed together to make a brushing sound.

Saxophone

Example:

A wind instrument made of brass with a single reed and a curved conical tube. The pitches are controlled by keys on its body. It is named for its inventor, Adolphe Sax.

Shaker A percussion instrument made of a container filled with beads or seeds which make a rattle sound when shaken.

Shakere A percussion instrument from Ghana and Nigeria made from a dried, hollow gourd covered with a net thatís woven with seeds.

Sitar A stringed instrument from India. The sitar is a member of the lute family with a long neck and a pear shaped body. Originally, the sitar had three strings; now, 4-7 are more common. When there are seven, five of them are usually used for melody, and the other two provide a continuous drone. Addititional sympathetic strings* may be placed underneath the main strings to enrich the instrumentís musical tone.

* Sympathic strings are strings located underneath the main strings on an instrument. They are not played directly, but vibrate "in sympathy" as the main strings are played.

Snare Drum

Example:

A small double-sided drum with skin pulled tight over the top and bottom. Metal wires, called snares, are stretched across the bottom skin, and rattle when the drum is struck.

Steel Drums A tuned percussion instrument, originally made from the kind of large, metal container (also known as a drum) used for storing oil. The head of the steel drum contains several depressions, each of which produces a different pitch. The steeldrum was developed in Trinidad in the 1930ís and 40ís, and is played with a rubber-headed stick.

Synthesizer An electronic instrument, usually with a keyboard, used for the generation and modification of sound. First developed for electronic music studios, the technology evolved to enable concert performance, and eventually digital sound and recording capabilities.

Tambourine

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of a small wooden hoop with metal disc inserts called jingles. The hoop is covered on one side with a drumhead. It is played by shaking or striking the drumhead with the hand.

Tambourine

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of a small wooden hoop with metal disc inserts called jingles. The hoop is covered on one side with a drumhead. It is played by shaking or striking the drumhead with the hand.

Theremin One of the earliest electric instruments, first demonstrated in 1920 by the Russian who invented it: Lev Temen, known in English as Leon Theremin. A Theremin player moves his or her hands around the instrument instead of touching it. The two antennae that stick out of it control pitch and volume by transmitting radio waves.

Timpani

Example:

The only drum that can be tuned to produce definite pitches. Timpani is Italian for kettle drum, another name for the instrument because of its large kettle-shaped bottom, over which the skin of the drumhead is stretched. The player uses a pedal to tighten and loosen the drumhead to change the pitch.

Triangle

Example:

A percussion instrument made of a metal bar bent into the shape of a triangle with one corner open. It is held by a string and struck with a metal rod.

Triangle

Example:

A percussion instrument made of a metal bar bent into the shape of a triangle with one corner open. It is held by a string and struck with a metal rod.

Trombone

Example:

A brass wind instrument with a cup mouthpiece and a long metal tube. A moveable U-shaped slide changes the length of the tube, which changes the pitch of the instrument.

Trumpet

Example:

A brass instrument with a cup-shaped mouthpiece and a metal tube with a bell-shaped end. Three valves can be pressed to change the length of the tube, which changes the pitch of the instrument.

Tuba

Example:

The largest and lowest brass instrument, with a mouthpiece and a big bell-shaped opening to a tube that is wrapped around in an oval. Valves on the tube can be pressed to change the pitch of the instrument.

Ukulele A small wooden instrument with four strings, similar to a guitar. The ukulele was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese settlers in the 1870ís, and quickly became popular with native Hawaiians.

Viola

Example:

Slightly larger than the violin, this member of the string family has a hollow wooden body, four strings that are tuned with pegs, and is played with a bow. It sounds a fifth lower than a violin.

Violin

Example:

The highest pitched member of the string instrument family. It has a shallow wooden body, four strings that are tuned with pegs, and it is played with a bow.

Woodblock A percussion instrument that consists of a hollow block of wood, struck with a stick or mallet.

Xylophone

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard, with a hollow tube under each bar. Each bar gives off a different pitch when struck with a mallet.

Xylophone

Example:

A percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned wooden bars arranged like a piano keyboard, with a hollow tube under each bar. Each bar gives off a different pitch when struck with a mallet.

Zither A folk instrument with 30 Ė 40 strings stretched over a flat, shallow, horizontal soundboard. The zither is played with a thumbpick* and with the tips of the fingers.

* A thumbpick is a small, flat tool with a loop on the end that is placed over the thumb, and used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument.

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