Musical Instruments By Letter

Want to learn more about an instrument – or discover new ones?

Find instruments alphabetically:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Carillon

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

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Spain.


Celesta

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.
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Cello

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.
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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

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.
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Claves

A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of short, wooden sticks

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Latin America.

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Clavichord

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.
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Concertina

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

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

*Usually considered a traditional instrument of Africa.


Contrabassoon

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.
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Cornet

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

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.
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Instruments Whose Names Start With C