A service of Cincinnati Public Radio  

World Instruments:
Return to menu



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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Steel Drums A tuned percussion instrument, originally made from the kind of large, metal container (also known as a drum) used for storing oil.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.

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.

Talk to us
We love to hear your comments on Classics for Kids.

Get the Classics for Kids Volume 1 & 2 CD set for your family

Home | This Week's Show | Past Shows | Composers | Games | Music | More | For Grownups
On the Radio | Events | Links | Contact Us
Teachers | Parents | About Classics for Kids | Privacy Policy
©2017, Cincinnati Public Radio, Inc.