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The horn, commonly known as the French horn, is a brass instrument made of about 12–13 feet (3.7–4.0 m) of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player (or less frequently, a hornist). In informal use, "horn" refers to nearly any wind instrument with a flared exit for the sound.
Descended from the natural horn, the instrument is often informally known as the French horn. However, this is technically incorrect since the instrument is not French in origin, but German. Therefore, the International Horn Society has recommended since 1971 that the instrument be simply called the horn. French horn is still the most commonly used name for the instrument in the United States.
Pitch is controlled through the adjustment of lip tension in the mouthpiece and the operation of valves by the left hand, which route the air into extra tubing. Most horns have lever-operated rotary valves, but some horns like the Vienna horn use piston valves (similar to trumpet valves). A horn without valves is known as a natural horn, changing pitch along the natural harmonics of the instrument (similar to a bugle).
Three valves control the flow of air in the
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.
"Harpsichord" designates the whole family of similar plucked keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals, muselar, and spinet.
The harpsichord was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music. During the late 18th century it gradually disappeared from the musical scene with the rise of the fortepiano. But in the 20th century it made a resurgence, used in historically informed performance of older music, in new (contemporary) compositions, and in popular culture.
Harpsichords vary in size and shape, but all have the same basic functional arrangement. The player depresses a key pivoted in the middle of its length, which causes the far end of the key to rise. This lifts a jack, a long strip of wood, to which is attached a small plectrum (a wedge-shaped piece of quill or, nowadays plastic), which plucks the string. When the key is released by the player, the far end returns to its rest position and the jack falls back. The plectrum, mounted on a tongue that can swivel backwards away from the string, passes the string without plucking it again. As
The viola ( /viˈoʊlə/ or /vaɪˈoʊlə/) is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.
The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between 1 inch (25 mm) and 4 inches (100 mm) longer than the body of a full-size violin (i.e., between 15 and 18 inches (38 and 46 cm)), with an average length of 16 inches (41 cm). Small violas for children typically start at 12 inches (30 cm), which is equivalent to a half-size violin. For a child who needs a smaller size, a fractional-sized violin is often strung with the strings of a viola. Unlike the violin, the viola does not have a standard full size. The body of a viola would need to measure about 20 inches (51 cm) long to match the acoustics of a violin, making it impractical to play in the same manner as the violin. For centuries, viola makers have experimented with the size and shape of the viola, often adjusting the proportions or shape to make a lighter instrument with shorter string lengths, but which still has a large enough sound box to create an unmistakable 'viola sound'.
Experiments have tended to increase the size of the viola,
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola, cello, and double bass.
The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Medieval Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument; this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle". The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries. Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. Great numbers of instruments have come from the hands of "lesser" makers, as well as still greater numbers of mass-produced commercial "trade violins" coming from cottage industries in places such as Saxony, Bohemia, and Mirecourt. Many of these trade instruments were formerly sold by
The clarinet is a type of woodwind instrument that has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an approximately cylindrical bore, and a flaring bell. A person who plays the clarinet is called a clarinetist or clarinettist.
The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette (the feminine diminutive of Old French clarin or clarion), or from Provençal clarin, "oboe". It "is plainly a diminutive of clarino, the Italian for trumpet", and the Italian clarinetto is the source of the name in many other languages. According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name was that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". This may indicate its strident quality in the upper register, although in the low register it was "feeble and buzzing". The English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, and the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century.
There are many types of clarinets of differing sizes and pitches, comprising a large family of instruments. The unmodified word clarinet usually refers to the B♭ soprano clarinet, by far the most common type. The clarinet family is the
The cello ( /ˈtʃɛloʊ/ CHEL-oh; plural cellos or celli) is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass.
A person who plays a cello is called a cellist. The cello is used as a solo instrument, in chamber music, in a string orchestra, and as a member of the string section of an orchestra. It is the second largest bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, the double bass being the largest.
Cellos were derived from other mid- to large-sized bowed instruments in the 16th century, such as the viola da gamba, and the generally smaller and squarer viola da braccio, and such instruments made by members of the Amati family of luthiers. The invention of wire-wrapped strings in Bologna gave the cello greater versatility. By the 18th century, the cello had largely replaced other mid-sized bowed instruments.
The name cello is an abbreviation of the Italian violoncello, which means "little violone", referring to the violone ("big viol"), the lowest-pitched instrument of the viol family, the group of string instruments that went out of fashion
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel-Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones.
A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist, a flutist, or less commonly a fluter.
Aside from the voice, flutes are the earliest known musical instruments. A number of flutes dating to about 43,000 to 35,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.
The word flute first entered the English language during the Middle English period, as floute,, or else flowte, flo(y)te, possibly from Old French flaute and from Old Provençal flaüt,or else from Old French fleüte, flaüte, flahute via Middle High German floite or Danish fluit. Attempts to trace the word back to a Latin root have been pronounced "phonologically impossible" or "inadmissable". The first known use of the word flute was
The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones (stringed instruments) and has its own sub category (the harps). All harps have a neck, resonator and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a pillar; those without the pillar are referred to as open harps. Depending on its size, which varies, a harp may be played while held in the lap or while it stands on a table, or on the floor. Harp strings may be made of nylon, gut, wire or silk. On smaller harps, like the folk harp, the core string material will typically be the same for all strings on a given harp. Larger instruments like the modern concert harp mix string materials to attain their extended ranges. A person who plays the harp is called a harpist or harper. Folk musicians often use the term "harper", whereas classical musicians use "harpist".
Various types of harps are found in Africa, Europe, North and South America and in Asia. In antiquity, harps and the closely related lyres were very prominent in nearly all cultures. The harp also was predominant with medieval bards, troubadors and
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BC. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound that starts a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the instrument. Since the late 15th century they have primarily been constructed of brass tubing, usually bent twice into a rounded oblong shape.
There are several types of trumpet; the most common is a transposing instrument pitched in B♭ with a tubing length of about 148 cm. Earlier trumpets did not have valves, but modern instruments generally have either three piston valves or, more rarely, three rotary valves. Each valve increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch.
A musician who plays the trumpet is called a trumpet player or trumpeter.
The earliest trumpets date back to 1500 BC and earlier. The bronze and silver trumpets from Tutankhamun's grave in Egypt, bronze lurs from Scandinavia, and metal trumpets from China date back to this period. Trumpets from the Oxus civilization (3rd millennium BC) of Central Asia have decorated swellings in the
The classical guitar (also called the Spanish guitar, the concert guitar or the nylon-string guitar) is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones. In addition to the instrument, the phrase "classical guitar" can refer to two other concepts:
The shape, construction, and material of classical guitars vary, but typically they have a modern classical guitar shape, or historic classical guitar shape (e.g., early romantic guitars from France and Italy). Strings are usually of nylon or other synthetic material, or fine wire wrapped around a nylon or other synthetic core. Historic guitars may have strings made of gut (sheep or pig intestine).
A guitar family tree can be identified. (The flamenco guitar derives from the modern classical, but has differences in material, construction and sound).
The term modern classical guitar is sometimes used to distinguish the classical guitar from older forms of guitar, which are in their broadest sense also called classical, or more descriptively: early guitars. Examples of early guitars include the 6-string early romantic guitar (ca. 1790 - 1880), and the earlier baroque guitars with 5 courses.
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles), or struck, scraped or rubbed by hand, or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments.
The percussion section of an orchestra, however, traditionally contains in addition many instruments that are not, strictly speaking, percussion, such as whistles and sirens. On the other hand, keyboard instruments such as the celesta are not normally part of the percussion section, but keyboard percussion instruments (which do not have keyboards) are included.
Percussion instruments are most commonly divided into two classes: Pitched percussion instruments, which produce notes with an identifiable pitch, and unpitched percussion instruments, which produce notes without an identifiable pitch.
Hornbostel–Sachs has no high-level section for percussion. Most percussion instruments (as the term is normally understood) are classified as idiophones and membranophones. However the term percussion is instead used at the lower levels of the Hornbostel–Sachs hierarchy, including
The piano is a musical instrument played mainly by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal. Although not portable and often expensive, the piano's versatility and ubiquity have made it one of the world's most familiar musical instruments.
Pressing a key on the piano's keyboard causes a felt-covered hammer to strike steel strings. The hammers rebound, allowing the strings to continue vibrating at their resonant frequency. These vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a sounding board that more efficiently couples the acoustic energy to the air. The sound would otherwise be no louder than that directly produced by the strings. When the key is released, a damper stops the string's vibration. See the article on Piano key frequencies for a picture of the piano keyboard and the location of middle-C. In the Hornbostel-Sachs system of instrument classification, pianos are considered chordophones.
The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte (PF), the Italian word for
The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the ophicleide. Tuba is Latin for trumpet or horn. The horn referred to would most likely resemble what is known as a baroque trumpet.
A person who plays the tuba is known as a tubaist or tubist.
Persiann Patent No. 19 was granted to Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht and Johann Gottfried Moritz (2777–3840) on September 12, 1835 for a "basstuba" in F1. The original Wieprecht and Moritz instrument used five valves of the Berlinerpumpen type that were the forerunners of the modern piston valve. The first tenor tuba was invented in 1838 by Carl Wilhelm Mortiz (1810–1855), son of Johann Moritz.
The addition of valves made it possible to play low in the harmonic series of the instrument and still have a complete selection of notes. Prior to the invention of valves, brass instruments were limited to notes in the harmonic series, and were thus generally played very high with respect to their fundamental pitch.
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, doghouse bass, contrabass, bass viol, stand-up bass or bull fiddle, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2 (see standard tuning). The double bass is a standard member of the string section of the symphony orchestra and smaller string ensembles in Western classical music. In addition, it is used in other genres such as jazz, 1950s-style blues and rock and roll, rockabilly/psychobilly, traditional country music, bluegrass, tango and many types of folk music. A person who plays the double bass is usually referred to as a bassist.
The double bass stands around 180 cm (six feet) from scroll to endpin, and is typically constructed from several types of wood, including maple for the back, spruce for the top, and ebony for the fingerboard. It is uncertain whether the instrument is a descendant of the viola da gamba or of the violin, but it is traditionally aligned with the violin family. While the double bass is nearly identical in construction to other violin family instruments, it also embodies features
The oboe ( /ˈoʊboʊ/) is a soprano-ranged, double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family made from a wooden tube roughly 60 cm long, with metal keys, a conical bore and flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed and vibrating a column of air. The distinctive oboe tone is versatile, and has been described as "bright".
In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" (French compound word made of haut ("high, loud") and bois ("wood, woodwind"), "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca. 1770 from the Italian oboè, a transliteration in that language's orthography of the 17th-century pronunciation of the French name. A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist.
In comparison to other modern woodwind instruments, the oboe has a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book published by Henry Playford in 1695, describes the oboe as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." More humorously, the voice is described in the play Angels in America as sounding like that of a duck if the duck were a songbird. The timbre of the oboe is derived from the oboe's conical bore
The trombone (German: Posaune, Spanish: trombón) is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips (embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate. Nearly all trombones have a telescoping slide mechanism that varies the length of the instrument to change the pitch. Instead of a slide, the valve trombone has three valves like those on a trumpet.
The word trombone derives from Italian tromba (trumpet) and -one (a suffix meaning "large"), so the name means "large trumpet". The trombone has a predominantly cylindrical bore like its valved counterpart the baritone horn and in contrast to its conical valved counterparts, the euphonium and the orchestral horn. The most frequently encountered trombones are the tenor trombone and bass trombone, while the E♭ alto trombone became less common as tenor technique extended the upper range of that instrument, but is now enjoying a resurgence as the importance of its lighter sonority in many classical and early romantic works is appreciated. The most common variant, the tenor, is pitched in B♭, an octave below the B♭ trumpet and an octave above the B♭ tuba.