Musical instruments and classification Flashcards Preview

Ethnomusicology 1 > Musical instruments and classification > Flashcards

Flashcards in Musical instruments and classification Deck (14):

what are musical instruments?

-does it require deliberate construction?
-does it require human interaction?
-is the voice an instrument?
-an object/device thats purpose is to make musical sounds



-study of instruments and how we classify them
-there are systems based on materials' shape and sound production


Western classical system

-split into wind (woodwind and brass), strings, percussion that can be expanded upon (plucked/bowed strings)
-however issues with system, not always consistent or reflect reality (piano - strings struck by hammers - string/percussion?)


Chinese classification system

-based on materials - stone, wood, silk, bamboo


Indian system

-focus on repertoire


Australian systems



Javanese systems

-different shapes within the percussion


Hornbostel-Sachs system background

-scientific approach to labelling instruments around the world based on an Indian classification system where instruments were split into whether they made sound by vibrating strings, air, percussion (wood/metal) or drums (percussion with skin head)


Hornbostel-Sachs system

-Aerophones - wind instruments where sound is produced by vibrating columns of air (flute, oboe)
-Chordophones - string instruments where sound is produced by vibrating strings (zithers, piano)
-Idiophones - instruments whose bodies vibrate creating sound (xylophones)
-Membranophones - instruments where sound is made by a vibrating membrane (drums)
-Electrophones - instruments that rely on electric power to produce or amplify sound (theremin, electric guitar)


the social in organology

-an instrument is more than its physical form and the sound it produces - attempts to include this in classification include 'Hood's organogram' that give more info on instrument (e.g. if there's a membrane how its attached)
-need for ethnographic study of instruments as physical object out of context doesn't give full story of why and how instruments matter (importance differs from person to person)


Social classification of instruments

who plays what? can be determined by class, gender
-stereotypes around orchestral instruments
-what repertoires are played on instruments (violins - WAM, folk, Carnatic)
-relative statuses of instruments - Stokes e.g. - fiddle/violin important in Irish culture and less so in Turkish


how do instruments affect those who play them?

-stories of instruments as individuals (stradivarius violins, named gamelan, dedicated bata drums)
-interactions between physicality of instruments, technique and repertoire
-priorities in an instrumental technique (violin - classical, HIP, folk, Carnatic)
-Gamelan with children with special needs, Good Vibrations Gamelan project with prisoners


Techniques differ

Violin - classical, folk, Indian


Instruments are complicated

-full story requires a lot of information
-same instrument can have radically different cultural meanings
-physicallity affects the way we interact with them and think about music