Types of musical instrument and their origin

Types of musical instrument and their origin

Musical instruments are objects that have been made for the purpose of producing sound with a varied range of tones.

They can be combined and used by a performer as a means of artistic expression

Origin of musical instruments

There are many models of musical instruments, including some that have changed over time, since some bone aerophones have been found in archaeological excavations whose origin is approximately 30 thousand years old.

These aerophones were used as an instrument to generate a sound similar to the flute.

Thanks to the extensive pictorial and literary documentation, it has become known that even since the time of the homo habilis the human being has used musical instruments made of different materials such as stones, hollow trunks or animal teeth.

Therefore, it can be assumed -and almost assured- that initially vocal and percussive sounds were used as the first musical medium. That is, because the voice itself is considered a natural instrument, since music can be interpreted through singing.

Although many consider any object that generates sound as a musical instrument, this definition is clearly preserved for those objects that generate a varied tonality and that can be used as an accompaniment by a performer.

Classification of musical instruments

Their classification has also changed over time and depending on the region, as is the case in Asia, where in certain regions they are classified according to the material, these being clay, wood, leather, metal or other materials.

However, it has been chosen to consider as official classification the way in which the instrumentation of a symphonic orchestra is formed: wind, string, percussion and -the most recently added- electric.

Following this classification, the instruments are grouped as follows:

Wind musical instruments

All those that are performed using the performer’s own oxygen are grouped together, so they are the blown instruments. Some of these are: flute, clarinet, trombone, piccolo, oboe, horn, trumpet, tuba and saxophone.

String musical instruments

Some of these are called “rubbing”, as they require a bristle bow to produce a prolonged sound, although the fingers are also used to execute the pizzicato technique.

The following are considered strings: violin, cello, viola, harp, guitar, mandolin, cuatro, piano (percussive string) and double bass.

Percussion musical instruments

Anyone who needs to be hit or shaken to generate a sound. For example: timpani, big house, cymbals, gong, triangle, xylophone, marimba, bass drum, drum, vibraphone and many more.

Electric musical instruments

All instruments that use an electrical device to amplify or generate sound are classified here. These can be the theremin, electric bass, electric guitar, synthesizer, among others.

Mostly known are those that are played in an orchestra, band or musical group, however, there are others of which we do not have more knowledge and yet there are those who use it in their day to day.

Hippie Musical Instruments

Within these instruments, the hangar and the didgeridoo have been observed.

The hang is a percussion instrument that resulted from the creation of the company, created from a scientific study on the relationship between steel and other percussion instruments such as steelpan and ghatam.

Its name -in the Bernese language- means “hand” and it is an instrument with an oval structure that resembles the shape of two joined cymbals.

On the other hand, the didgeridoo.

It is a wind instrument originating in Australia, which has been used by the aborigines for 40 thousand years, although it is visualized in cave paintings from 2 thousand years ago.

It has an elongated structure, like an extensive wooden tube, and basically this instrument produces sounds by means of the vibration of the lips inside.

Also, you may not know what instruments are used in the soundtrack of a horror movie or perhaps you have never wondered about those sounds that cause so much fear.

Musical Instruments Used in Horror Films

As mentioned at the beginning, there are many models of musical instruments, and there are those that are not famous or heard in many movies but you have not considered which instrument would be the cause.

The Waterphone

It is used in many soundtracks of horror films, documentaries, film noir, mystery and thrillers. Its sound has been heard by many people but almost nobody knows what it looks like.

It is an acoustic and atonal instrument made of stainless steel, having the shape of a circle that is surrounded by needles in a vertical position and of different length and diameter, with a kind of tube in the center that is known as a resonator.

The needles have a similar function to the tubular bells, being that these produce sound when they are rubbed with an arch, beaten with sticks or using mallets of different sizes -depending on the desired sound effect-.

For greater diversity in tone, the resonator can contain a small amount of water, which will produce the ethereal and vibrant sound that is so characteristic of this type of film.

The theremin

This instrument is somewhat better known than the previous model, being known for its characteristic high-pitched sound with a strange and electric touch.

Being introduced to the world in 1919, it is considered the world’s first digital instrument.

The most striking thing about this instrument is the way it should be played, since it is not necessary to actually play it physically without having contact with the structure of the theremin.

It consists of an elongated base or box and two antennas-one on each side-which produce sound when the performer’s hand approaches or moves away from them.

One of the antennas controls the sharpness of the sound, the closer the hand is, the higher the effect; while the other controls the volume, the closer the hand is, the lower the volume.

Although mostly the theremin is used for chilling sounds and creating tension, it also has use for relaxing melodies.